Verse of the Day

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity and Rev Jack Arnold’s 22nd birthday

Today we celebrated the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity and Rev Jack Arnold’s 22nd birthday!

From Bishop Garth Neel
You will likely be aware of the events that occurred this past week in Canada, the murder of a Canadian soldier in Quebec and then of another in Ottawa. The shooter in Ottawa was able to gain access with his weapon to the House of Commons Centre Block, just across the street from the war memorial where he shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo (age 24) of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. Cirillo was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown soldier. Once in the Commons building, he fired his rifle several times in a hallway outside rooms where the Prime Minister and the majority of the other MPs were meeting. One of his bullets passed through the door of the caucus room of the opposition party.

While he was hiding behind a stone pillar in the hallway, near the parliamentary library, Mr. Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-at-Arms (historically a royal body-guard, now the top cop on the Hill), came out of his office, saw the shooter's rifle protruding from behind the pillar, dove down onto the floor in front of the shooter and emptied his handgun into his body. A number of other Mounties, who had been moving down the hallway toward the shooter, then opened fire as well. The shooter was killed. It appears he was Quebec-born, a muslim convert, whose father had once gone over to Libya to fight for the regime there. It is clear that he had no real knowledge of what was going on inside Centre Block when he entered, as he passed completely by the room where the Prime Minister was speaking and made no attempt to enter.

Canadians are proud of their security forces and grateful for the very quick action of Mr. Vickers. He is a 30 year veteran of the RCMP and during that time never had to fire his service weapon once. After killing the shooter, Mr. Vickers returned to his office, reloaded his weapon, and then joined the other Mounties as they made sure there were no more shooters involved. Mr. Vickers went into the caucus room to tell the P/M that he had engaged the shooter and that the man was deceased. When he appeared the following day at the opening of Parliament, carrying the ceremonial mace, the P/M and all the other M/Ps gave him a standing ovation. He is a true Canadian hero.

My prayer is Canada will, as a nation, awaken to its obligation to worship and serve the one true God, changing the many ungodly laws we have enacted in the last 50 years or so. Then shall she be true to her motto, A Mari Usque Ad Mare ... From Sea to Sea ... taken from Psalm 72 ... for this is a prayer not only for the righteous and just dominion of the earthly king who rules from sea to sea but also for the recognition of the dominion of the One True King ... who rules over all. May God grant that the church in Canada will rise to its duty in these challenging days. 
Love and blessings - Garth

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 –

‘Charity’ now means simply what used to be called ‘alms’—that is, giving to the poor. Originally it had a much wider meaning. (You can see how it got the modern sense. If a man has ‘charity’, giving to the poor is one of the most obvious things he does, and so people came to talk as if that were the whole of charity. In the same way, ‘rhyme’ is the most obvious thing about poetry, and so people come to mean by ‘poetry’ simply rhyme and nothing more.) Charity means ‘Love, in the Christian sense’. But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.
Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

The Past
We must beware of the Past, mustn’t we? I mean that any fixing of the mind on old evils beyond what is absolutely necessary for repenting our own sins and forgiving those of others is certainly useless and usually bad for us. Notice in Dante that the lost souls are entirely concerned with their past. Not so the saved. This is one of the dangers of being, like you and me, old. There’s so much past, now, isn’t there? And so little else. But we must try very hard not to keep on endlessly chewing the cud. We must look forward more eagerly to sloughing that old skin off forever—metaphors getting a bit mixed here, but you know what I mean.
Jack Lewis
The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Proverbs 14:34

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
St. Matthew 13:45-46

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
St. John 6:44

But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
St. Jude 17-19

We ought to be diligent Bible-readers because the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. We shall never fight a good fight if we do not use it as our principal weapon. It may well be feared that there is not enough Bible-reading amongst us. It is not enough to have the book. We must actually read it and pray over it ourselves. It will do us no good if it only lies still in our houses. Knowledge of the Bible can only be got by hard, regular, daily, attentive wakeful reading. Memorized Scripture is a stronghold against sin in the hands of the Spirit.
JC Ryle
19th century Anglican bishop and author

That religion which is reluctant, or forced, whether by fear or by stress of conscience, is spurious... unless the service we render to God flows from the heart, it is no evidence that we are his children.
Charles Hodge
19th century American theologian and author

Perhaps one day this too will be pleasant to remember.
1st century AD Roman poet

Talk of imminent threat to our national security through the application of external force is pure nonsense. Our threat is from the insidious forces working from within which have already so drastically altered the character of our free institutions — those institutions we proudly called the American way of life.
Douglas MacArthur
20th century American general officer and hero

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
George Washington
18th American patriot, general officer and president

How strangely will the tools of a tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words!
Samuel Adams
18th century American patriot
(a letter to John Pitts in Jan. 21, 1776)

Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.
Thomas Jefferson
American patriot and third president.

On evil
I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion—which raises its head in every temptation—that there is something else than God—some other country . . . into which He forbids us to trespass—some kind of delight wh. He “doesn’t appreciate” or just chooses to forbid, but which wd. be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as He can, or else a false picture of what He is trying to give us—a false picture wh. would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing. Therefore God does really in a sense contain evil—i.e., contains what is the real motive power behind all our evil desires. He knows what we want, even in our vilest acts: He is longing to give it to us. He is not looking on from the outside at some new “taste” or “separate desire of our own.” Only because He has laid up real goods for us to desire are we able to go wrong by snatching at them in greedy, misdirected ways. The truth is that evil is not a real thing at all, like God. It is simply good spoiled. That is why I say there can be good without evil, but no evil without good. You know what the biologists mean by a parasite—an animal that lives on another animal. Evil is a parasite. It is there only because good is there for it to spoil and confuse.

Thus you may well feel that God understands our temptations—understands them a great deal more than we do. But don’t forget Macdonald again—“Only God understands evil and hates it.” Only the dog’s master knows how useless it is to try to get on with the lead knotted round the lamp-post. This is why we must be prepared to find God implacably and immovably forbidding what may seem to us very small and trivial things. But He knows whether they are really small and trivial. How small some of the things that doctors forbid would seem to an ignoramus.
Jack Lewis
The Collected Letters of CS Lewis, Volume II
Conviction is not repentance. It is one thing to be awakened at five o'clock in the morning, but it is another thing to get up.

Christ is not only the Saviour but the salvation itself.
Matthew Henry
The Propers for today are found on Page 215-217, with the Collect first:

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes
Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church
26 October 2014, Anno Domini

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

Matthew 9:1-8
esus entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

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

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

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city

            It is likely that multitudes were anxiously following the movements of Christ by word of mouth. Every rumor of His coming was eagerly received. Were it the same today!

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed

            Amazingly, there were men who had early heard of Christ’s crossing to them from the Gaderenes. They had already, by their strong faith, gone to the home of their cherished friend and prepared him on a stretcher to bring to Christ. We are not told of the faith of the man afflicted by palsy, but the faith of his friends would prove sufficient.  The man being brought to Christ had a serious illness. It was a CHRONIC illness much as sin is to every man born of woman. His illness had taken away his liberty to move, to associate, and to speak out on matters of faith and life. Doesn’t sin steal away our liberty in the same way?

            Now this man is being brought to Christ, on the strength of his friends’ faith, to make him whole. It is much like the woman taken in adultery being dragged before Christ – the only source of healing and forgiveness – by men who intended her no good at all. We have all needed a friend, or even a stranger, to bring us to Christ and introduce us to that great Personage and Lord. The man with the palsy was in a most miserable of human conditions. So were we before we were brought to Christ.

            There are two powers revealed here in the text – the power of sin to destroy and make miserable, and the power of Christ to make whole and impart joy and liberty. We see in this account that our own faith may be essential to bring another to the point of being made whole in Christ. We learn, too, that often the efforts of more than one is necessary to bring one to Christ, and these must work in unison (in carrying the bed level at all corners).

Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 

            Jesus’ notice is fixed on the faith of the men who bring the victim sick of the palsy – not the victim. He sees THEIR faith and is moved to compassion and amazement. One point I will make at the onset of the account: the furthest thing from the mind of the man afflicted by this horrible ailment is most likely not forgiveness. He desires, above everything else, to be made free of the disease.  But he does not realize that faith precedes freedom and liberty. In first aid, we learn that the most important consideration in treating a victim of some violent crime or accident is to STOP THE BLEEDING, if there is any bleeding. This is the medical procedure of ‘triage’ which requires treatment of the most serious and life-threatening condition first. Our most serious affliction is not leprosy, or palsy, or physical blindness! It is SIN. Sin kills finally and forever! Jesus treats that affliction first! Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

That’s right - that same old gang of detractors and doubters that followed Christ everywhere. They still follow Him and doubt the miracles of life and love of which God is benefactor.  They saw Christ heal blind Bartemeus; they saw Him call Lazarus from the grave at Bethany; they saw the young daughter of Jairus restored to life – yet, they believed not. Why not, do you suppose? I believe it was because they did not WANT to believe! If we believe Christ, we must abandon self. Our free wills must be exchanged for that Will (Mind) which was in Christ! No longer would they be king of the mountain, but Christ would be – so they traded their birthrights in God for a bowl of Esau’s porridge. But never doubt – our thoughts are not kept from the notice of Christ. He knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves.

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

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

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

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

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

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

But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men

            It is paradoxical, indeed, that the multitudes of common folk recognized the miracle as coming only from God, but the Pharisees did not! Of course, even the multitudes did not recognize that it was God Himself that stood before them, in Christ, to perform this miracle. How many today see the miracles but not the hand of Christ behind them? How many walk the lonely road to Damascas, wanting to see Christ, when He walks right beside them?

Behold, I am with thee always, even unto the end of the world! AMEN

Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Todays sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider the words of the Collect, “…without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts …”

The collect continues on the theme from last week, that without God’s mighty help through the Holy Spirit, we are not able to understand what we need to do to be one with God, to follow His Will; we need Him, through the Holy Ghost, to direct us in our endeavors, beliefs and understanding. 

This trend is evident in the Epistle, where Paul writes to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 17. “Yet henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened and alienated from the life of the God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

Paul basically is saying that we should not do as the world does and look into ourselves for guidance for our spiritual lives. If you look into your inner self, you will find blood, guts and bodily fluids.  Looking there for guidance is just inviting a nasty disaster for our souls when we die and wake up from our death to find we are not only physically dead but have died a spiritual death, a permanent separation from God, as we are on the other side of that “fixed gulf.” There is a way to avoid this fixed gulf, and that is to accept His spiritual help and guidance and to let the Holy Ghost into our lives.

To do that, we must openly accept Him into our hearts and let Him guide our thoughts and actions. St. Paul tells us that we must begin to live our lives anew, to leave off the old sinful ways and thoughts of our old lives,  but to reboot as it were, and to start afresh by being honest, not prone to anger, to work hard, and think, speak and act kindness and to forgive as you would have God forgive you. This will show up a little later on, but it is an important message that bears repeating.

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

Paul also gives very practical and simple, though hard to follow, directions on living our lives:
·      Be honest;
·      Avoid anger;
·      Do not let anger linger over night;
·      Follow not the guidance of the devil;
·      Quit stealing;
·      Work hard;
·      Think kindness;
·      Speak kindness;
·      Act kindness;
·      Forgive as you would have God forgive you, which He hath done in Jesus Christ!
We move on to the Gospel, where Jesus, attending to a sick man, picks up on the evil thoughts of the temple scribes, who think to themselves Jesus blasphemed. However, if they realized who truly the Son of God was, Jesus, they would be shocked if they realized they had just accused God of being a liar and blasphemer. However, their darkness in their hearts, like the vanity of the Gentiles minds that Paul talked about, prevents them from seeing the truth of the person of Christ.  Then he asks them, which is easier, to say that the sins are forgiven, or to actually say “Arise and walk”, or in other words, the command or the actual physical action of the healing, of which is more important?

The command is important, but we find Jesus doesn’t just talk to hear himself talk. Unlike some of the more modern “Christian” televised preachers who do, but to make a point and to act according to that point he makes. If we believe His commandments, we will keep them, which means our behavior, our actions, will match His Words.  The book Acts of the Apostles, isn’t “Meditations”, “Philosophies” of the Apostles, but Acts.  Jesus puts forth emphasis on “Actions speak louder than words” through his actions. Actions truly show where a persons heart is set. He may profess to be a member of Our Lord’s church, but if his actions do not match his profession then we shall clearly know he is not truly our Christian brother. We must make sure that our actions match our belief in Scripture.

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

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

The time to act is NOW.  Will you act?  For whom will you act?  Will you count the cost before you act?

Action, not diction, is what counts.  It is by your actions you 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:

Responses to Christ
Matthew 9:1-8
Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
October 26, 2014

It is a scene typical of the Gospels.  Jesus arrives in a village and the sick are brought to Him for healing.  In this case it is a man "sick of the palsy."  The Greek used in Matthew 9:2 is the word from which we derive our English word, "paralysis," and the man "sick of the palsy" had some form of paralysis.  We are not told how extensive this paralysis was, but are told it was enough to prevent him from walking, for in the dispute with the Pharisees Jesus said that it was just as easy to say "Thy sins be forgiven thee" as it is to say, "Arise and walk" (vs. 5).  I notice there is no accusation of a phony miracle here.  Nowhere does the Bible suggest that anyone doubted the reality of the miracles of Christ.  Even His enemies knew His miracles were real.  Sometimes, they even brought the sick to Jesus, so He would heal them on the Sabbath and they would have something to argue about with Him.  We saw this in our reading from Luke 14 on the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.  There was never any doubt about Jesus' miracles because the sick He healed and the dead He raised were well known by the people around them.  He could not have faked them. Also typical of the Gospel scenes, there are two responses to Jesus; some rejected Him, some received Him.

Rejection was the response of the Pharisees.  Some of them did, of course, receive Christ, and some of them are now with Him in Heaven, but most of the Pharisees blatantly rejected Christ.  Thus, verse 4 of our reading for today says, "And Jesus, knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?"  And verse 3 tells us the Pharisees said of Christ, "This man blasphemeth."  In reality it was they who blasphemed.  God Himself stood before them, the One they claimed to worship and love, the Messiah they claimed to be waiting and praying for.  Yet they rejected Him.  They accused Him of blasphemy, and, in the name of God, they killed Him.

It is not as though they lacked enough evidence to believe in Jesus.  They were experts in the Old Testament law found in the Books of Moses.  Yet Jesus said if they had really believed Moses they would believe in Him because Moses wrote of Him (Jn. 6:46). They had the entire Old Testament, and Jesus said the Scriptures testify of Him (Jn. 6:39).  We have already considered the unquestioned validity of His miracles.  So there was no shortage of evidence.  Their problem was not lack of evidence; it was that they did not want to believe it.  They were like the people spoken of in Romans 1:18 who "hold the truth in unrighteousness."  They have the truth, but they "hold" it, that is, they hold it captive.  They suppress and restrain it, rather than receiving and believing it.

The evidence about Christ is available to all.  The Scriptures are open and free.  The life and ministry of Christ are known to the vast majority of people on this planet.  Truly the "light shineth in darkness" (Jn. 1:5), but people love darkness rather than light (Jn. 3:19).

Tragically, it is not only "unbelievers" who persist in their darkness.  Many who call themselves Christians live in a state of rebellion against God.  I am not talking here about committing sins.  We all do that every day.  I am talking about an attitude that keeps God at arms length, even while doing religious things and thinking religious thoughts.  Never forget that the Pharisees were theologians.  They were the pious of the pious.  They were more religious than the vast majority of Jews, and they knew more of the Scriptures than anyone else of their time.  Yet they were outside of Christ because they never surrendered themselves to God.  They never really said, "God, I will do it your way."  I know it costs a lot to do things God's way.  It costs a lot to surrender your time, your money, your family, job, your very life to God. But it costs a lot more not to.  The Reverend Roger Jessup stated this well in a conversation we had while driving to our denominational convention.  He said, "It is not so much that we break the commandments of God; it is that they break us."  They break us because we ruin our lives when we disobey them.  We can no more build happy, productive lives while ignoring the laws of God than we can build a working airplane while ignoring the laws of physics.

Others, seeing the healing of the paralysed man, received Jesus.  They marveled.  That means they were shocked.  It means they were amazed and astounded at what they saw.  They knew the sick man.  They knew his illness was real.  They knew only God could raise him up and restore him to health.  He had probably been to many physicians and received many treatments. He had probably been to many priests and rabbis, and there had probably been countless prayers sent to the throne of grace on his behalf.  Yet he remained a cripple, until Jesus said, "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house."

We are so accustomed to hearing and reading these stories that we become inured to the shock value of them.  We have to imagine ourselves in the presence of a rotting corpse raised to life again, or seeing a crippled person rising from the sick bed.  Imagine Jesus walking through a hospital healing the sick and dying.  Imagine Him going to funerals and raising the dead, and imagine yourself being there with Him and witnessing it all with your own eyes.  Thus you may regain the marvel at what God has done in this passage of Scripture. 

These witnesses were shocked.  Their marveling included a strong dose of holy fear; they were in reverent awe because they knew they were in the presence of the Holy One.

Thus, they glorified God.  This does not mean they ran around shouting, "Praise the Lord."  They didn't dance or speak in tongues, or have an ecstatic, emotional experience.  They did something more profound and much deeper than that.  They acknowledged the glory of God deep in their souls.  We might say, they "received" Him.  They opened their hearts and souls to Him.  The Bible tells us these people marveled, but I marvel at their faith.  They did not have the New Testament to explain Christ to them. Christ had not yet completed His work of crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.  They did not have the Church to help them on their way, yet they glorified God.  They received Him.  We have far more light than they.  We live in the age of God's full revelation in Scripture.  Ours is the crucifixion, the resurrection and ascension, the Bible, the Church, the Sacraments, and two thousand years of Christian history.  Therefore, ours should be the greater marvel, the greater awe, the deeper reverence, the deeper faith, the more faithful obedience. Let us pray to God to help us.

Holy Father, we have many benefits that, even the people who saw Christ in the days of His flesh did not have.  Grant unto us a sense of awe when we read of Your miracles.  Grant to us a sense of how shocking these miracles really are.  And grant that, seeing them afresh in the pages of Holy Scripture, we, too, might be moved to glorify God.  Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

+Dennis Campbell

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

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. 

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
26 October 2014
Psalm 72 • Job 24:1-17 • Titus 2
God is Sovereign

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

There is a rather stark contrast in our Old Testament and New Testament lessons. The Book of Job reiterates what appears to be a wanton abuse of good people by evil people.  They seem to be getting away with all of this abuse.  Job points out that they do all this under the supposed protection of darkness.  All of this activity is done in what appears to be secret.   And yet as Job points out, God does see them, He is aware of their activity, their proclivity to evil, the damage they do with animal like abandon, ...behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey:...    All seems to be happening without any intervention by God.   The warning against this behavior is found several times in this passage, starting with verse one: ‘why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?’   And again the several references to doing evil in the dark or at twilight, all in an attempt to avoid the Almighty.  We know that God does not sleep or slumber, so the implication is He sees all.    So no matter what the wicked do to try and avoid God’s eyes, they are not able to do so.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.  (Psalm 121:4)

When we compare and contrast the Old Testament lesson with the New Testament lesson we can see several valuable points to aid us in our daily walk with God.

In the second chapter of Titus, Paul is writing to new and ‘seasoned’ Christians at the same time.  He expresses the need to eat, sleep, read, and profess sound doctrine.  It is of the utmost importance to do these things.  As Paul had written to Timothy and to the church at Corinth, he again emphasizes the need to be true to the Gospel message.  All of the characteristics that he writes about are an important aspect of behavior, a behavior that the world is watching at all times.  The idea of course to see if Christians mess up in their daily lives.  We can and we do, we are not perfect, we are forgiven.   That is an interesting point that can be made to nonbelievers. We as Christians are not perfect, but we are forgiven our sins when we ask forgiveness of the same.   We are to be sound in faith, in charity, in patience, be teachers of good things, teach younger ones these truths and also showing a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing uncorruptness.

As we study this chapter pay attention to verses 9-11.  Many false teachers try to use this and other similar passages to say the Bible promotes slavery.  Balderdash.   Define servant.

In a very real way, anyone who works for someone else is their servant.  I know in our democratic ways we like to think of ourselves as independent beings, but in reality we have a boss or three when we work for others.   In theory even if you have your own business, you still have bosses...they are your customers.   But now back to the point.    As a servant/employee we are not to talk back, follow the orders of the boss(as long as it is legal), don’t steal, this includes playing on the internet, taking long coffee breaks, being idle.  Be faithful, be a good worker/servant: why ? Because the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

Make sure you show that grace of God in all you do as a person, a worker, a boss, a neighbor, a friend to both believers and non-believers.

 9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

In conclusion, if we know God sees all, He is Sovereign and has control of all then it is our duty to God and His Kingdom to live and serve Him all our days.   As we reread the last five verses of Titus chapter 2 let us reflect on what St. Paul is expressing as the right way to face the day to day grind we all find ourselves in; we are to look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.    Know that we cannot do this ourselves, we must deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world.   We need to speak, exhort and rebuke with all authority, because it is the right thing to do as we serve the Kingdom.

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Let us pray:

lmighty God, who hast bidden us seek that we may find, and who pourest out on all who desire it, the spirit of grace and of supplication; Deliver us, when we draw nigh to Thee, from coldness of heart and wandering of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship thee in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Lord Jesus Christ, who didst say unto Thy Disciples, Come ye apart into a desert place and rest a while; Grant we beseech Thee to Thy servants now gathered together, so to seek Thee whom our souls desire to love, that we may both find Thee and be found of Thee. Grant such love and such wisdom to accompany the words which shall be spoken in Thy name, that they may not fall to the ground, but may be helpful in leading us onward through the toils of our pilgrimage to that rest which remaineth, where, nevertheless, they rest not day nor night from Thy perfect service; who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

irect us, O Lord, in all our doings, with Thy most gracious favor, and further us with Thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify Thy holy Name, and finally, By Thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.O Almighty God, who hast built Thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the head cornerstone; Grant, us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

he Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace, now and for evermore. 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.

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

In our epistle today, the apostle Paul called on the brethren to put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Nicodemus was troubled by our Lord’s comment that Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (St. John 3:3). He then questioned, How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born ( St. John 3:4)? Our Lord plainly stated that what he meant by the expression to be born again was not to be understood in a literal sense, but rather in a figurative one. It is a spiritual rebirth accomplished in Christ Jesus by means of a person’s belief in him as God’s only begotten Son (St. John 3:16). So then the first thing that must be done to begin this process would be to embrace Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

Some might contend that recognizing their sins ought to be first, but simply identifying troubling behavior does not remedy the problem. The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, Sirs, what must I do to be saved (Acts 16:30)? To which they replied, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:31).

In an earlier chapter in Ephesians (1:13-14), St. Paul explained the process. First of all came the hearing of the word of truth in which the members of the church at Ephesus had placed their trust. They were willing to hear and to receive the gospel of salvation after which they believed. They thus took it into their spirits. This led to their being sealed with the holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. This last portion refers to the eternal nature of our salvation. St. Paul noted earlier that God had predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself... (1:5), and that we then have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (v.7). And such is part of God’s intention that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ... (v.10) For it is in Christ that we have obtained an inheritance... (v.11), and that inheritance is eternal life in his kingdom. A person cannot fall out of the Master’s hand once he or she comes to Christ; but so many never truly make that commitment to him in faith and thus backslide and fall away much as in the parable of “The Sower” such was described as being the seed which fell by the wayside and took root only to wither away when trial and tribulation showed up (St. Matthew 13:20-21). And so the superficial Christian is not a saved person because if he truly was saved, he would not fall away from the faith and go after other gods.

The next thing that a true and faithful Christian ought to do is avoid re-entangling himself in those evils which he had engaged in prior to his coming Christ. He must renounce the things of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. The wonderful hymn by Mrs. Cecil F. Alexander entitled “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult” has a verse that is apropos: “Jesus calls from the worship of the vain world’s golden store; from each idol that would keep us, saying, ‘Christian, love me more.’” We cannot keep to our former corrupted state and hold onto Christ. Our former evil selves would be unable to take hold of his hand without slipping out precisely on account of our sinfulness.

So then ridding oneself of that old nature which was mired in sin is imperative if a person truly desires to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord said, No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (St. Matthew 6:24). In the Ministration of Holy Baptism concerning the office for baptizing adults, the minister will ask the person seeking this sacrament the following: “Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow, nor be led by them?” The candidate’s answer is: “I renounce them all; and by God’s help, will endeavour not to follow, nor be led by them.”

Another thing a believer ought to do is be renewed in the spirit of your mind. This means to have that change of mind— to repent— and seek a new way of living. Only the penitent person will be enabled to put on the new man. Such a one realizes that the old life he or she once lived would doom them to an eternity in perdition. Such a one understands that God has offered him a new life— a new beginning— a second chance to become something different and thus be freed from the bondage of sin and degradation. People in sin tend to love their sins as Pastor Ellsworth once noted. They love them even and in spite of the injuries which such things had done unto them prior to their receiving Christ. But once Christ had come into their lives, they found a release from those sins. They then saw their former ways as God saw them, and were repulsed by them. Only by coming to see their former lifestyles as wicked and evil were they then enabled to truly say to God as the prodigal did, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son... (St. Luke 15:18).
Recognition of sin opens the way to repentance and aids us in keeping the old man from ever coming back. And so with repentance, the old man— the old nature— is put off and the new man is put on. The new man is born again— born from above— not of the flesh but of the Spirit. The new man is cognizant of sins past to which he or she will not turn to again. That life has died in the baptism of the Spirit, and from that moment a new creature has been born, not in physical terms, but after a spiritual manner. Such a person does not change physically so much as they change within. That is the real change— the change that will result in a new man being donned and kept. As the apostle Paul has written concerning this new state of being, But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6). We have been quickened that is made alive in the spirit and bearing the promise that we will one day be made alive eternally in a new body that will be like that of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is of the greatest importance for every Christian to seek after God’s will and that includes understanding the nature of their salvation. It should be understood that only through a true and abiding faith in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God can such be obtained. For only in his name and under his blood do we receive his free gift of grace. And only by confessing our sins to God in his most blessed name do we receive remission for those sins.

Regenerated or born again believers possess that blessed assurance which Christ supplies, and that empowers them to go forward in his service. It is my prayer that each of you will seek to be made right with God today through his free gift of grace which is in that name that is above every name, even Jesus Christ our Lord. It is also my prayer that if you have not done so, that you will come to see the need for his salvation and embrace him as your Lord and Saviour. Do not wait for tomorrow as it is promised to no one. Come to Christ Jesus today.
Let us pray,

 LORD, we pray that you will impress upon the hearts of all who are as yet outside of your hedge of protection, the need to be regenerated— born again of thy most holy Spirit— and that they will indeed turn unto thee and be saved; for this we ask in the name of thy dear Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+