Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The Church in Central New York founded and consistently fostered by the GLBTQIS community. October 31, 2018 was the 35th Anniversary in our 36th year in Ministry.
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Sermon for May 15 and 16, 1999
Resurrection Week Seven, Year A

Acts 1:6-14
Seventh Sunday of Resurrection, (Year A)

1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"

1:7 He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.

1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

1:9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

1:10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

1:11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away.

1:13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

1:14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
Seventh Sunday of Resurrection, (Year A)

68:1 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.

68:2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, let the wicked perish before God.

68:3 But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.

68:4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds--his name is the LORD-- be exultant before him.

68:5 Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

68:6 God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land.

68:7 O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah

68:8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

68:9 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished;

68:10 your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

68:32 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord, Selah

68:33 O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.

68:34 Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; and whose power is in the skies.

68:35 Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 Seventh Sunday of Resurrection, (Year A)

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

4:13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.

4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

5:8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

5:9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.

5:10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

5:11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

John 17:1-11
Seventh Sunday of Easter, (Year A)

17:1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

17:2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

17:4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.

17:5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

17:6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

17:7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;

17:8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

17:9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.

17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

17:11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Brother Benedict, Sermon 174

Acts 1:6-14
Psalm 68
1Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
John 17:1-11

Thursday was the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus. We tried something a little different this year by having all of our Bible studies for this week focused on the Scripture readings of the Ascension. My impression is this was beneficial to everyone and gave each one a chance to really focus in on the truths that can be known about ourselves from the doctrine of the Ascension.

This weekend we complete the season of the Resurrection, which I think you will agree has been a glorious seven week, forty-nine day meditation on resurrection body; life after our personal resurrection; and born-again life in general. Beginning next weekend we enter the season of Pentecost where we focus on the Holy Spirit and the Church. The season of Pentecost runs to the end of the Church year in November. Note, the largest season of the Church year is Pentecost and this is because we are alive in the Age Of The Church, also called the Age Of Grace, also called the Age Of The Holy Spirit.

When Jesus said; "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you....," (John 14:15-17) Jesus was laying the ground work for the Holy Spirit as Vicar of Christ. The context of that doctrine was Jesus preparing His followers for His departure to Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God.

This weekendís first reading begins in the middle of the Ascension account. Notice when they ask, is this the time for the establishment of the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven, Jesus again gives the reply we discussed in the sermon on Resurrection week 5, two weeks ago; only the Father knows the day and the hour! Todayís reading in Acts 1:7 Jesus says; "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority." After reminding them God will set the hour for the kingdom Jesus moves right on to the new Dispensation at hand. He tells the believers they will "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

We gain much understanding concerning the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church Age from this. Jesus commanded the believers to go to Jerusalem and wait there for the "promise of God," namely the Holy Spirit. Jesus commanded them saying only after the Holy Spirit was sent into the world, were they commissioned to be Christís witness to the ends of the Earth, beginning in Jerusalem. From this we learn no one is to testify, preach, teach and minister, who does not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Why?

The Holy Spirit is the witness of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the power of God. The Holy Spirit is the Truth (John 14:17; 16:13,14). The "Natural" person, that means the person who is not baptized in the Holy Spirit, can only operate from their own human intellect, that means from the information they have managed to find the time to gather concerning what might be hypothesized about God using Natural Science, and investigation of the Natural material world. There are many people today who claim to be building the Christian Church, by means of natural reasoning, natural investigation, natural historical development, etc. Naturalists, or Rationalists study the Bible as literature, not as the only sacred inspired writing. They look for the historical Jesus and discount all his divinity as sacred myth. They study the history of the Church as one more aspect of the history of world cultures, etc. However, the key word that shows the fault of this approach is "natural," which means not spiritual. Natural scientific investigation is needed and is an excellent work of man that stands on its own. However, Natural Science makes no claim to understanding Divine Science. Incidentally, this is what is behind the name, "Christian Science," the study or science of God.

A person who is not living in the Holy Spirit is going to share only what they have found to be understandable to the non-spiritual mind. Paul describes the difference this way; "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be canarally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:5-9)

Natural, scientific, rational, philosophical inquiry is not part of the plan of God for the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Godís plan is for the Holy Spirit to work through us just the way the Holy Spirit worked through Jesus. Remember, Jesus said we will do the same works He did and even greater works. It was the Holy Spirit who did the works of God in Christ (Matt. 12:28-32; Rom. 15:18-19) . Jesus, in other words, was hear to teach and train us on how to have the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives (John Chpt. 14). Therefore, as Jesus was about to ascend to Heaven, He ordered the believers to wait for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit before they went out to begin the ministry of Christ in the new Age of The Holy Spirit.

Our first reading today tells us Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James, the brothers of Jesus, some of the women disciples, and Mary the Mother of Jesus were obedient to the Lordís command and they went into Jerusalem, to the upper room and were "constantly devoting themselves to prayer." (Acts 1:12-14) Since the Holy Spirit descended into their hearts on the Day Of Pentecost, we know they were gathered in this prayer vigil for ten days. How many of us would be willing to pray for the Will of God in our lives for ten days?

In the Gospel, Jesus testifies to his pre-existence. He said: "I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed." (John 17:4-5) Jesus is clearly saying He was once in the presence of God before even the world was created and through the ascension, He was returning to that presence at the right hand of God. This is an essential verse for understanding Jesus was not created in Maryís womb. Jesus has existed for as long as God has existed (John 1:1-4; Col 1:15-19). Jesus and God are one being. Jesus was God on Earth (John 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:11-13; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:19; 2:9; 1 John 5:20 b). At the end of this Gospel reading Jesus indicates that the entire Trinity will be one in life and death with us; "Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." (John 17:11)

Hopefully you are beginning to see that God is not off in some great distant place in the universe, separate and uninterested in the lives God created. No, everything we have been studying has clearly said God desires to be in us through the presence of the Divine Trinity. God desires to be completely involved in our lives for ever. Though this is true, we are still in our natural bodies, still living in a world full of sin, and we do still sin and have difficulties. This is the subject of our second reading this week, 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11.

It is essential to continually remind each other the Gospel does not promise an easy life. No, in fact all the curses from the first rebellion are still in effect. (Genesis 3:7-19) This is not "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." Peter says, therefore; "do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.." (1 Peter 4:12) In 1 Peter 5:6 Peter says; "cast all your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you." This is one of the remarkable privileges of living in the resurrected Christ. Through the resurrection presence, Christ knows all of our anxieties, all of our concerns, all of our fears. Peter is saying Christ is waiting for us to depend on Him. This is the subject of the song; "What a Friend We Have In Jesus." The song says; "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bare. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bare. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."

Also, Peter exhorts us to discipline ourselves and keep alert; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brothers and sisters in all the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you." (1 Peter 5:8-10) I wonder what those churches who teach Satan is an old Medieval myth do with these verses? Could a myth be roaming about seeking the next soul to devour? All that kind of teaching accomplishes is leaving the people of God defenseless against the powers of evil. If the Church is not educating the people in what evil is, the people fall victim and become the prey of evil for lack of Divine knowledge. The Word of God wants us to be educated so we stay alert to the reality of attack from evil. Satan wants us to follow the naturalists and not believe in his abilities to kill and destroy so he will easily victimize us.

However, we are not left orphans by the Ascension. (John 14:15-21) In the absence of the physical Jesus, the Holy Spirit is here to guide us into all Truth. The Holy Spirit is here as our Advocate, our Counselor. All the wisdom and truth of God that we need is provided for us by the Holy Spirit. As we enter the season of Pentecost in a few days, let us take this week to prepare our hearts to have a season of growth in our understanding and in our application of Godís power through the Holy Spirit. Spend time in prayer this week and dedicate the next months to the Holy Spirit and ask God to further your growth in relationship with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to take more control of your life and your destiny.

. May Almighty God bless all of us, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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