Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 18, 2018

AOC Sunday Report

The AOC Sunday Report can be downloaded RIGHT HERE!
Happy First Sunday in Lent!  The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

There are really good sermons from Bishops Roy and Dennis, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.  While the cover the same Scripture, they are quite different, you should enjoy each of them.  If not, please let us know as we will send you a refund!

There are a tremendous number of people who need your prayers, please start with Shamu who undergoes surgery tomorrow and for Herb's family and friends who miss him.

There is a week ahead.  Good, bad or indifferent, your choice.  With God's Help and Grace, it can be EPIC!  Go for it.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, CA

First Sunday in Lent


If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 


Consider these words from the Collect:

… Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory …

In the Collect, we ask God to help us change our natural evil tendencies so that we can live life here His way and honor His wishes so we can be truly happy.  Without His help, we end up with what we want, not what we need.  Lent is the time in which we focus on fighting our sinful selves and working with the Holy Ghost to reconcile us with what God wants for us. What we want is not the same as what we need. We are asking him to help us fight our human nature and follow His divine nature, we are attempting to replace our nature with that of God’s. It will be a long and difficult road we must travel, doing this, but we are going to be much happier in the long run if we at least do our best. Do or do not, there is no try, Yoda is quoted as saying, and I have found it applicable here and in my own life. We have to act, not just say we are going to act, but we must physically perform ACTIONS!
                                 
Wantand Need; two words, used interchangeably in both our speech and thought that do not mean the same thing. Think about that!

Following the thought of the Collect, Paul asks us to be worthy of the grace God has given us.  He tells the people when they needed him, He was there.  They need to be there for those around them.  They need to be supportive of those around them and they must not frustrate God’s work by showing up late, or not at all. It goes back to Jesus’ saying, No man can serve two masters. We have to make a choice in this life and decide whom we are to serve, God or the Devil, and then act on it. There is only one good choice for us and that is to serve God, of course. Paul is advising people they can’t simply hold a position between the two, for there is no middle ground here. We have be on one side or the other.

We have to put in our 110% for Him, as He sent His Son to die for us and redeem us, so we should truly show our gratitude for His act, by serving others and performing actions for Him, with His Help.  We actually have to act upon our faith in order to live it. We do not have any faith if we are not actively acting upon it. We are largely outnumbered in this world by the enemies of God.  We are like many of our servicemen in many of the battles that they have fought our nation, greatly outnumbered by the enemy, they did not just sit on their hands and wait for the enemy to come. 

Our servicemen didsomething about it, otherwise they would be overrun by the enemy. It goes along with the saying, The best defense is a good offense. So, too, is it in this hostile world. While spreading the Word we need to be always going on the offense, spreading it to those who have not heard it. We have to always keep moving, or else we will be overrun by the Forces of Satan. We have to do this by doing actions that are consistent with His Word and show that we truly believe in Him and not just say we do.

Those around us are watching our actions in the time of testing.  God is also watching us in the time of testing to see how we perform with the talents He has given us. He is not testing us per se, but is evaluating our performance under pressure. Make no mistake it is a hard battle we are fighting, against the forces of wickedness, of the Devil, all across the globe. Our actions will show whom we truly serve,  God or the Forces of Satan. Which side will you serve? You in the end have to choose one side or another. Pick the winning side now, which is the Forces of God, and you will have a rich everlasting life. The key to winning this battle for souls is to never ever ever give up and to trust in God and Dread Naught. 

We have been given eternal salvation by Jesus’ sacrifice, the understanding of the Gospel by the Holy Ghost.  We are at this time dying here on earth, yet progressing towards eternal life in the next world, in Jesus’ World, with His help. While we may never be wealthy here on earth, our actions can make our fellow Christians wealthy in spirit beyond measure.  

If you claim to be a Christian, you know what is right.  If you are a Christian, you do what is right, you don’t take a vote to see what the right course of action may be. Doing what is right does not depend on public opinion and we must do the right thing. In fact the public opinion oft times is rather in the wrong; see people’s opinions on homosexual marriage and abortion to understand this. It does not matter what others’ opinions are, that does not change the universal truth of God and His Message. We will be despised because of the opinions we hold from understanding the Gospel and His Message, from being on the side of righteousness. This is because people who do not want to hear our message will choose to hear something else, that was not intended by the message. They will claim we are bigots and hateful people, when we are nothing of the sort.

All we wish is for these individuals to repent of their sinful ways and turn back to God.  There is nothing hateful about that. However, it goes back to There are none so blind as will not see and none so deaf as will not hear. There will be many whose ears are closed off to the message as they are blinded by mammon.  But there will be some who eventually open their ears. All we can do is plant the seed and let the Holy Spirit germinate it. 

We must go especially against the grain to become Christians. The truth does not change, as it is the constant that never changes. God is the Truth, The Word and the Life of this universe. The Truth is God, and like God, the Truth never changes. It is our actions that count, in good times or bad.  We are Christ’s ambassadors to this world; unfortunately, we do not have diplomatic immunity. 

When the Devil attempted to tempt Christ, he shows how little he knows of Him.  If we emulate our Lord, it shows how little the Devil will be able to tempt us with his deceit. If we follow Him we will be able to withstand any temptation that arises as our Lord showed for us in the desert 2,000 years ago. 

Consider how little the Devil really offers you and how much Christ offers, the temptation is ever so much less.  The Devil is often referred to as the Deceiver or Dissimulator.  His forte is deception; he seems one thing, but is another.  He offers what he has no intention or ability to deliver. He actually has zero ability to deliver on his large promises, he has no right to give away what is not his! He ignores the inevitable result of accepting his proffered help or inside track. Jesus has more for us than the Devil can ever hope to offer, the promise of eternal life with Him and His Father. The Devil will never deliver anything close to that. We have to remember this next time the Deciever comes and tempts us for earthly riches and treasures. We also have to remember that mammon cannot make us happy, only serving God can make us truly happy. Mammon might offer a fun factor; only serving God can have the true happiness and bliss that comes from serving Him. 

The Devil clearly knows Jesus is the Son of God.  There is no doubt in his mind.  So, having understood that, consider what he offers Jesus in temptation.  

Remember, Jesus has fasted 40 days OF HIS OWN CHOICE; now comes the devil daring Him to show His Power by turning the stone into bread.  This to the Son of He who delivered manna daily to the Jews in the wilderness for 40 years.  

Cast thyself down and let angels catch thee; this to He who walked on water.

Up to the mountain lookout – Here is it all yours if you worship me.  This to He, who as it says in Psalm 95:

I
Nhis hand are all the corners of the earth; * and the strength of the hills is his also.

The sea is his, and he made it; * and his hands prepared the dry land.

O come, let us worship and fall down, * and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is the Lord our God; * and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

The devil promised Jesus nothing that was his to give, nothing that would help Jesus in the real world beyond the Shadowlands. He never does.  The devil is all about shortcuts.  Remember, if the shortcut was the best way, it would not be a shortcut. The devil will not help us at all in the long run, if you look at things from the eternal perspective. That is what we need to keep in mind every time he tempts us. If we keep that in mind, then the temptation will be less. 

The temptation of Jesus is no different than the Devil’s attempt to tempt us!  The Devil never delivers what we need, only what we, in our imperfect want.  He can’t understand what we really need, he only knows what we want. This is an advantage we have over him. We understand what we truly need, if we remember it, then holding off against the temptations is easier. Rememberas little as the Devil understands of Christ, the same way, as we are in God, so he understands little of us.  He will never offer you real help.  Remember that and the temptation is ever so much less.

Or, as my grandfather said, “Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole”

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits. Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ash Wednesday 2018


Anglican Orthodox Church

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDING BISHOP
P.O. Box 128
Statesville, N.C. 28687
    Phone: 704-873-8365   

Letter for Ash Wednesday 2018

     This Ash Wednesday will be a time of deep reflection on the benefits and provisions of God, but also for our abject failure to be a righteous and Holy people. Have we done well? Have we been a people of perfect obedience? Have we honored God in all of our ways? We not speak with complete credibility of others in the church, but we can assuredly speak for our own selves – WE HAVE NOT BEEEN SO OBEDIENT AND HOLY! Each of us have been, as the Gospel text recommended for the day suggests – PRODIGALS. We have happily taken of the blessings of God and gone into a far country to waste all.      But we have been a righteous people, you aver! Have you really been? Have you taken time to visit the poor and sick on every occasion? Have you given generously of your resources to the work of God? Have you tithed your time and your study 
moments as well as all else?  Has there been time enough to confess all of your sins that you can, at least, remember committing? I use only the opening lines of the Gospel and Epistle for they are suggestive of the whole. 
 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.  And he said, A certain man had two sons:  And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” (Luke 15:10-13)      
      Let us read the opening lines of this great parable and discover how we are different from that Prodigal who left his loving Father for the allurements of the world. We have taken the blessings of God in our own hands and have squandered them on desires for which they were not intended – yes, you and I have done so. It is not a nebulous tale intended only for listeners of 2,000 years ago, but for you and me.      Do we doubt that these parables of Jesus apply to us? 
 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by he word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
     As we observe this ASH Wednesday, let us remember that obedience, repentance, love, and faithfulness are not the things to be boasted of. We do not smear ashes on our faces, or disfigure them, to be seen of men as fasting and repentant. The words of Jesus have direct application to the means of fasting and of observing this beginning of the Lenten Season: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18)  “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks an OUTWARD sign, but the Lord looks into the heart. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:8) We use plain, unleavened bread in our Communion because it represents the sinlessness of the Savior it symbolizes. Simplicity in both worship and service is pleasing to the Lord.
     As we observe this Holy Season, let us keep foremost in our minds that it is the Holiness of Christ, and not of ourselves, that we observe. Our hearts are prone to sin and wickedness, but it is the blood of Christ, shed on Mount Calvary, that cleanses us and makes us whole if we are penitent.

Jerry L. Ogles
Presiding Bishop

O Lamb of God (Agnus Dei)- a Devotion for 13 February 2018, Anno Domini

If you prefer,  there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!
A
NDbeginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?  (Luke 24:27-32)

This ancient hymn was brought to the Church by Sergius in the seventh century, but its words and sentiments predate even that primitive time. All who are intimately aware of the Lord as their Shepherd, Rock, Shield, King, and Redeemer will also know, especially, that He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Though it is not liturgically mandatory, it is allowed to be sung during Holy Communion by the rubric which permits the singing of a hymn. The hymn might justifiably be attributed to the authorship of John the Baptist for its central theme and spiritual statement, for he proclaimed, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world(John 1:29) 

The tune is the composition of Merbecke, and it reflects the reverence and awe represented in the foremost of our Church worship – the Sacrament of the Holy Communion.

Agnus Dei

O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world
Grant us thy peace.
Amen

O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world Have mercy upon us.The first clause in this verse is repeated three times for perhaps the best of reasons. Repetition aids recall (a cardinal law of learning), and the three repetitions remind us of the TRIUNE nature of our God. You will recall that shortly after John the Baptist made his proclamation, that the Triune God was strongly present at the baptism of Jesus. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the SPIRIT OF GOD descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo A VOICE FROM HEAVEN, saying, This is my BELOVED SON, in whom I am well pleased(Matt 3:16-17)God the Father’s Word descended from Heaven, the Spirit of God descended and lit upon Jesus - who is God the Son. The same Three were present in Genesis 1:1 and every verse following. 

The latter clause, Have mercy upon us, Is an oft repeated desire of the forlorn, the helpless, the sick and lame, the blind, and the abject sinner. You may wonder why the ten lepers that Jesus met in Samaria did not first plea for healing? They did not do so for they knew, innately, that the mercy of the Son of God would also heal every illness.  Remember: 11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us(Luke 17:11-13) 

 O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world Grant us thy peaceWhen we have come into the saving fellowship of Christ, we have gained Mercy by means of His unmerited Grace. We did not deserve His Mercy, but we received it as a gift of Grace, and our sins were remitted. The Grace and Mercy of our Lord ALWAYS results in a peace that exceeds all of our worldly imagination. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus(Phil 4:6-7)That peace of God will keep our hearts and minds focused on God’s will and not preoccupied with that so-called free will of man which is enslaved to the Prince of the Air and of Darkness. 

Summary Note
 The Agnus Dei is a Holy and Reverent expression of our awe of the Lord of our Salvation. It is best expressed in an attitude of solemn worship and self-examination. Who are we that the Lord and King of Heaven should bear His breast and body to the sword - for us? The Lord’s Supper is such an ideal setting for the singing of this ancient and powerful hymn of praise and adoration to our Lord. Please remember those two men on the Road to Emmaus: They were walking the road forlorn and distraught over One whom they believed had been taken away from them forever – the Lord Jesus Christ. As they walked and shared their doubts and grieving, One walked right beside them for whom they were grieving. How often do we mistake our moments of sorrow and self-pity as a sign that God has abandoned us; and how often is He walking the road of our troubles right beside! 

            The Presence of the Body of Christ is symbolized by the Bread of the Communion, for He is the Bread of Heaven. It is a COMMUNION with the Lord and with fellow believers at His Table – the Lord’s Table. That Bread is made by many thousands of grains of wheat that have been crushed to make something wholesome and full of life. (ABP Cranmer) The Christian, too, must bear his cross. He is often crushed in order to leave a sweet smelling fragrance and legacy of faith and courage. 

            The Wine represents the Life-Giving Blood of our Lord. It is full of the Spiritual nourishment that gives joy and warmth. The grapes, too, are crushed and fermented to preserve their essence. The Church must be fermented likewise with the gracious fermentation of the Holy Ghost. The real and spiritual Presence of Christ in the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper is not subject to doubt or question.

            When the two men fellowshipped with the Lord along the way, they had no real idea who He was, though they felt a certain spiritual presence that may have seemed odd to them. But when the Lord broke the Bread and gave to them, their eyes were OPENED! We may have a strong spiritual experience, but it cannot be filling unless we feed upon the BREAD! So may our eyes be open to the fullness of the Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world at the taking of the elements of the Communion at the Table of the Lord! Do not our own hearts burn within us as we fellowship along the way?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

AOC Sunday Report

The AOC Sunday Report can be downloaded RIGHT HERE!
Happy Quinquagesima Sunday, or if you prefer , or the Sunday next before before Lent.  You can learn more if you read the AOC Sunday Report, which as a matter of interest can be found RIGHT HERE!

There are really great sermons today from Bishops Jerry,Roy and Dennis, as well as from Revs Jack and Bryan.  Each is quite a bit different, but you will enjoy each of them.

There are a lot of people who need your prayers, start with Herb and work out from there.

Have a great week ahead.  How you ask?  With God's help, of course.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, CA

Sermon Notes - Quinquagesima - Saint Andrews Anglican Church - 26 February 2017, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


The Sunday called Quinquagesima, or the
Sunday next before before Lent.
The Collect.

O
 LORDwho hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

T
mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. (Mark 10:46-52)

We have been on a glorious journey these past days of Lent. Beginning at the Banks of Jordan Waters where Christ was baptized, into the sands of the Wilderness with Him; then along the Temple grounds where we saw a woman ruthlessly arraigned before Christ for adultery. We witnessed His compassion and mercy in forgiving the woman. Then, up the coast of Tyre and Sidon at which place the Syro-Phoenician woman, burdened by the straits of the darling of her soul (her little daughter), begged for the crumbs of the Bread of Life from the Master’s Table and received whole Bread. From thence we crossed the Galilean Sea to Capernaum where one with palsy was brought on a stretcher to Christ and carried away his bed. Afterwards, down to Bethany we walked to a tomb of a dead man named Lazarus. When we arrived, Lazarus occupied the tomb. When we left the tomb, so did Lazarus! What a beautiful trip we have had. Now we shall have another amazing experience at Jericho. There is a blind man named Bartimaeus who has been sitting beside the road outside Jericho for a very long time. God saw the man the first day he came, and the man will see God the moment he leaves his place beside the road.

And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. Just a coincidental meeting? Never! Christ knew of the appointment of which Bartimaeus had no idea. Bartimaeus had perhaps heard many reports of Christ, but he had no way of searching Him out. But Bartimaeus did not sit at home and pine away his hours – instead he went to a public place at which he could use his remaining senses to learn and to gain a means of self-support. He was at that roadside every day. The modern Christian feels over burdened to attend church only one day out of seven in hearing the Word of God. If we will find Christ, we must be diligent in seeking Him out, even in the busy thoroughfare. One thing is certain: when we seek Christ, He will find us. And Christ found Bartimaeus! He was blind and begging beside the road. Take no pride, dear friend, in your present salvation. You, too, along with me, shared a place along side the road from Jericho. We, too, were spiritually blind and begging ere we came to Christ. 

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Once we are abundantly aware of our blindness and realize the source of healing is passing by, we must cry out in earnest lest the opportunity pass.  So does Bartimaeus. He recognizes Christ as the Messiah by referring to Him as “thou Son of David.” Though blind, his cognitive vision was better than many others in the place and, surely, better than those who proudly sat in the Temple of Jerusalem. No one told Bartimaeus that this was the Son of David, he knew instinctively that it was so based on those bits of news he had gathered by the roadside.  A desperate voice cannot, and must not, be stilled. God may not hear the voice of a casual Christian, but one who is desperate and serious in his prayers will be heard.

Once again, we see that those closest to Christ are often the very ones who prevent others from coming to Him. “And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” But the voice of desperate faith cannot be silenced. Any attempt to do so results in a more compelling appeal. Although the entire, rowdy crowd may be against us, Christ is not! And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. When man stands still, it may be due to indecision or fear, but when Christ stands still, something wonderful is about to happen. He stood still outside the Tomb of Lazarus. He stood still beneath the sycamore tree in whose branches Zaccheus sat. And now He stands still for the least esteemed of those on the road from Jericho – blind Bartimaeus! When Christ calls the broken heart, or even a dead heart, the call will always be heard. 

Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. When Christ calls, we shall rise. There is a time appointed of God for our own names to be called, and we shall answer, and we shall rise.  And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. Though we are not told with certainty, I believe this garment cast aside by Bartimaeus was the same he spread upon the ground for men to cast coins upon. Such cloths were used by beggars I have seen while living in the Middle East. If so, Bartimaeus knew he needed the beggar’s cloth no more. When Christ calls for us, we do not hesitate demurely, but arise immediately to the call unlike those we find in the Gospel of St. Matthew: 18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. 19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.  (Matt 8:18-22)Who are the dead? Those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?  Do you, for a single second, believe that Christ did not already know the desires of poor Bartimaeus’ heart? Certainly He knew; however, Christ loves for us to voice our prayers for the glory of God and those who may be watching. The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. Please note that Bartimaeus did not make reference to Christ as “Good Master” (or Teacher), but as LORD! His prayer was a simple one: “Lord, that I might receive my sight.” He didn’t ask the Lord if He was able to grant this – Bartimaeus had the sure faith that this prayer could be fulfilled. Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole This is a powerful command! Bartimaeus is now free to go his way (because he can see to find his way), but he is also made whole in every other way including the forgiveness of his sins.  But Bartimaeus did not longer go HIS way. He went the way of Christ: And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. Likewise, when we have been made whole and our sins forgiven, we must no longer proceed on OUR way through life, but following Christ in His Way. AMEN!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Fountains and Wells of Living Waters- a Devotion for 8 February 2018, Anno Domini

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print
READER version RIGHT HERE!
B
UTwhosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  (John 4:14)

            The Old Testament gives a physical shadow of those spiritual truths revealed in the New Testament. One physical example of our Lord Jesus Christ was given as the great Rock of Mount Horeb in the Wilderness of Rephedim: 1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. 2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! 4 And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? 5 And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. 6 And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them. 7 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. 9 And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them(Num 20:1-12)

            Our Lord was represented by that Rock which sprang forth Life-Giving waters. 1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ(1 Cor 10:1-4)

            Moses was a man well-beloved by the Lord, yet Moses presumed much above what the Lord commanded of him. His presumption, and that of Aaron, kept both men from entering into the Promised Land. What was that presumption? First of all, like many modern evangelists with their false presumptions, Moses did not acknowledge the power of God in bringing forth the water from the Rock, but rather implied it was by his own power: . . . . he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?We must acknowledge God in all His works. Secondly, Moses was commanded to SPEAK to the Rock, but, instead, he struck the Rock twice in apparent derisive anger. He seems to have doubted the miracle before it happened. Neither had God counseled Moses to speak in anger to the people, yet Moses referred to them as “rebels”. That, they were, but God would have his ministers to minister in love. For these trespasses on the glory of God, Moses and Aaron were forbidden entry to the Promised Land. But the people were saved by the abundance of water in spite of their under-shepherds and their own rebelliousness. God oftentimes shows mercy in spite of our breaches of faith.

            There are two additional examples of fountains of water provided by the Lord that I wish to focus briefly upon. They involve the young servant girl, Hagar. When Hagar had conceived (illegitimately) a child by Abraham, an animosity arose between her and Sarah (even though it had been Sarah’s misguided idea about how to provide a child promised by the Lord). Hagar escaped into the Wilderness. 7 And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the Lordsaid unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands(Gen 16:7-9)Hagar called the name of the place “The Lord That Seest Me.” Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi(Gen 16:14)

            After Ishmael had been born, God intervened with Sarah in her old age of 90 years and she conceived Isaac (the gift of conception is always from the Lord). The two lads were not compatible – just as those born of God today are incompatible with the children of the world. At the counsel of both Sarah and God, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness with minimum provender of water and food. 15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. 20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer(Gen 21:15-20)

            There is a beautiful truth ensconced in the above text. First of all, God did not respond to the voice of Hagar’s weeping, but rather to the voice of the lad. How tenderly our Father looks upon any child! Secondly, Hagar was desperate for water, but her faith was too weak, and her eyes too blinded by tears, to see the well of water that was just before her. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. There are times when misery and doubt blind us to the abundance of blessing that the Lord has prepared just before us. Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies(Psalm 23:5)

            There are many other fountains and wells in Scripture of which we could make mention, but I wish to mention only one other – “The Well that Jacob had Dug” outside the gates of Shechem (or Sychar in NT). This is the Well which Jacob had dug outside the gates of that city whose source was an underground river. It is the same well at which the Lord had a predetermined appointment with a woman of less than commendable character. It was a rendezvous conceived for our benefit and teaching from before the foundation of the world. 

            Please observe how this story is introduced: He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And HE MUST NEEDS GO THROUGH SAMARIA (John 4:3-4)By all means, the Lord would take the more tiring journey through Samaria rather than proceeding directly to Galilee since He had an appointment which He would not miss. We all know the story, and I will try and relate it as briefly as possible. 

            The woman came at the noonday hour perhaps to avoid seeing the town gossips who always came in the cool of the evening to draw water. She came seeking water – but not that water which would satisfy eternally. It was worldly water she sought which could satisfy the body, but not the soul. She may have been a bit surprised to see a Jewish man sitting by the well, but she was accustomed to strange men, so she began to drew her water anyway. Jesus always approached the sinner with the greatest of courtesy though He knew all about her sins before He saw her. Give me to drink,  the Lord says. The woman is surprised that a Jew would ask that of her since Samaritans were considered unclean. (and she WAS) 

            The water that the woman had in mind lay at the bottom of a hole in the earth. It was inorganic and unliving. It was the water of the world. But Jesus tells her:If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.  (John 4:10)LIVING WATER is quite a different kind of water. Its source is not in the world, but in Heaven. It does not satisfy for a few hours, but forever! Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life(John 4:13-14)If our souls consume this water, we will become a conduit for that water to others – as the woman, indeed, did become.

            We must understand that Jesus knows every secret of this woman’s heart. He knew her while she was yet in her mother’s womb. He has watched her in mournful and depressing moments of hurt and rejection. He loves her already. Such first love is necessary for us to have the ability to echo that love. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither(John 4:16)There comes a moment in our communion with the Lord that we must be made aware of our dreadful sins. The time has arrived for this woman. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly(John 4:17-18)No matter how smoldering the dark venue of our sins, they are not hidden from the eyes of the Lord.

            The woman immediately recognizes something very unusual and holy about the prophet who speaks to her of matters of which no one else knows, especially a stranger. But Jesus is not stranger to any. After further dialogue, the woman is convinced of His Personage. She runs into the village and proclaims to all that she has met the Messiah. They BELIEVE the woman and go to see for themselves. There is a great irony in this. They all knew of the disreputable character of the woman, yet now they believed a fantastic story that she shares. Why? It is because the woman spoke out of the authority of a convicted heart just as all Christians should do. 

            The people went to see Jesus firsthand.  What was the result?  . . . . many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world(John 4:41-42)Herein we see the need to study to show ourselves approved of God. Regardless of the number of ministers we hear preach, there comes a time when our thirst for this Living Water compels us to search out Christ for ourselves through the diligent study of His Word. 

           One last point! Jesus made a very interesting comment to the woman regarding worship. Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth(John 4:21-24)That very hour has arrived. We may become very proficient in our knowledge of God’s Word and yet dead as doornails. I hear many boast of reading through the Bible dozens of times, but something must have been missing in the translation based on their unconverted lives. Many seeking filthy lucre preach the prosperity gospel every Sunday with a profusion of Bible texts taken out of context for the purpose of deceiving. Truth needs the companion of the Spirit as a catalyst to Holy living. Some churches boast of much Spirit. In fact, they do not refer to themselves as a Christian church, but rather a Holy Spirit Church. They have much of the wrong spirit in their midst, but no truth. When Truth is wed to the guiding goads of the Holy Spirit, then Godly worship becomes a reality.