Verse of the Day

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Sermon Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
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, “… thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works …”


The first thing to consider when you look at today’s Collect is a word: prevent.  Prevent is a word that has many uses, and at least one has fallen out of general usage as time has gone on.  This is one of them.  In this case the word prevent means to go before.  Before you object to archaic words, consider this is a current word, it just has a use you may not have been aware of and now you are!  What a bonus for this week!

So, we ask God that His Grace, His Love, His Power, His Help may go before and after us to protect us and guide us that we might desire to do what He wants us to do.  Pretty much a re-wording of a lot of the Collects.  Why would that be?  Pretty simple, our biggest failing is we are wont to do what we want!  This is a very common theme in the collects and lessons in the lectionary, for a very good reason. Our sinful nature causes us to want to do what we want. We need His Help to go before and after us to guide us through life, doing what we need to do, not necessarily what we want to do. There is a big difference between needand want, that sometimes we get mixed up. What we need to do is not usually as fun as what we want to do, but it is better for us in the end. More importantly, what we need to do is aligned with what God wants for us. So, we need His help if we are to do the things we need to do.  We are creatures with free will and are not wont to exercise it for God or good. That is a very dangerous combination, as my father says often.  That is not the same as doing what will provide us with the best result. 

The difference is God truly knows what is best for us. We tend to sometimes think we know ourselves better and thus we know what is best for us. However, that is incorrect thinking. God designed and built each and every one of us. Do we truly think we know more than our Creator? That is the foolishness of our natural inclination talking. If we stop to think, we realize, with the help of the Holy Ghost, God truly knows what is best for us and that it will be a lot better for us if we listen to him.  If we follow what He wants for us, we are guaranteed to have good results in the long run. It does not mean that we will not suffer in the short term, however it means if we follow God's will for us, then we will come out ahead in the end, when we have eternal life. If we follow our natural inclination, we will not like the end result, that is eternal separation from God.  In the end will it be our will that is followed or God’s will?  People who desire eternity with God and follow that desire by doing their best to follow him will get that eternity with God, but the people that want to be separated from God for all eternity with their actions and desire not to follow His Commandments will be separated for all eternity. The latter choice is the result of following our natural inclination, the former is if we fight our natural inclination with the help of the Holy Ghost. 

We are like disobedient children, and God is the ever patient Father. But, from time to time, we will make mischief and or trouble, some of us more than others. God has to gently warn us and allow us to experience the consequences of our inclination to sin, in order to learn not to do it. This is His form of discipline in a way. When bad things happen as a result of our doing, it is not His fault that's it happened, but our fault for not having done what we were supposed to be doing because it was “too difficult.” 

The other part of the collect talks about asking God to make us be continually given to do good works. This means to put His Will into our heart and give us a desire to continually do good works for others, by given, the collect means to put a desire into our hearts to do God’s Will here on Earth and part of doing His Will on Earth is performing good actions or otherwise known as good works.  If we are followers of Christ, as a matter of course, we will perform such good works as those of which we are capable. However, we cannot perform these good works of our own accord; we need His guiding spirit, so we ask Him to shine and come into our hearts and help us have the mindset to do those good works for Him. 

Through consequences of our sinful actions, we know that we shouldn’t do it again. We know, often very clearly, what we want. For example, while I was studying for my WGU degrees, I found if I didn’t read the textbooks and study, I did not do as well on the tests as if I did read the texts and study for then I passed the tests.  Like the rubrics, God knows, always very clearly, what we need. But we do not often know what God wants for us, so we have to first pray to Him to find out what He wants, then the most critical step of the communications is that we have to listen to what He says.  He is there, like the rubrics to guide us along our paths in our daily life.  So, we need to ask God every day, every time, for help to do our duty. And every day, every time, He will answer our questions, we just need to open our hearts, souls, minds and ears to Him, and after hearing His Answer, then acting upon it. We just need to remember to ask Him when we need help and not just try to do everything on our own. Because when we try to do that, we set ourselves up for failure and not success. However, if we ask Him and listen to Him truly, then act, we are setting ourselves up for success.

So, what does Paul tell us in his letter to us? Once again, he calls us to a new life, different from our old life.  We shed our old clothes, as it were, like reptiles shedding their old skin and put on the brand new armor of light, new helmet, new boots and new everything. We throw off the manner in which we acted before, brashly, and sinfully, and put on a new cloak, that of righteousness. A life in which we act in a manner worthy of the better life to which we have been called by Christ and for which He gave His life. We are to act in accordance with the new way in which life, to desist from sinning and to do good things for people and for Him. The part about ceasing and desisting from sin is one of the most difficult aspects of putting aside one’s old life. But, it can be done. Paul, formerly Saul, did it and went on to become one of the greatest apostles who served the Lord. So, if he can do it, so can we. 

This is made possible by the Holy Ghost, who is our lifeline to God our Father. Paul, of all people, knows the importance of setting aside your old life, as Saul did; as Paul he asks us to put God first in our lives, to put ourselves last.  He even changed his name to reflect his state as a new man under Our Lord’s leadership. He reminds us, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  The key to a successful life is to put the important things at the top of your To DoList. And, notice it is a To DoList, not a To Think About or To Wait a While List.  It is not a I’ll Get a Round To It List, or What I Don’t Want to Do List.  What is more important than God? It is all about prioritization, putting God ahead of your wants and desires. We have to make it so that serving God is our want and desire, then and only then are our desires aligned with His. We have to accept the Holy Ghost into our lives to do this, then when we truly have faith, it will show in our actions. Action and not diction is what truly counts in the end. It is a phase that shows up in sermons a lot, but that is only because it is very true. 

When Luke relates the parable of the feast, it is more than just a seating diagram. I liken it to the tale of the publican and the Pharisee. When Christ talks about the man who exalts himself and sits too high at the wedding and thus must be abased. That would be the Pharisee. When Christ then talks about the man who sits low, and is raised to the higher station, I think of the publican, who smote his breast and would not even look up his eyes to heaven. We have to be the publican in our dealings with God, rather than our natural tendency of being the Pharisee. We should not be one of those selfish individuals who always causes grief for others because he is blind to his own faults and only thinks of himself. Again, as with the ceasing from sin, this is one of the hardest things we have to do. But it must be done, no matter how we feel about it. So let us turn to our Lord to help with it, because He alone can help us.He can only help us if we are truly willing with our hearts, souls and minds. We have to be willing to act and do actions, and not just say it.  No other expert can help us, no “theologian” or prosperity preacher can truly provide for our needs better than Our Lord. If we do what God asks, we will not become like those people. If we put God’s will before ours, the welfare of those we encounter before ours, if we hold open the door as gentlepersons are wont to do for others, we will find we are doing what God would have us do and enjoying it. And that is the best gift of all, the joy one gets from serving others is true happiness.

It is very possible to do the good deeds and have fun doing them. The time we spent in worship with the other ministers and their wives at the AOC Conventions in the past proves this. Doing good things for other people and being with other believers gives me some of the greatest happiness I have ever felt. This comes from the Holy Ghost, from being inspired by Him, around other believers. Wherever two or three or gathered, Christ is there also. It is a wonderful feeling wherever He is.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity



Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s 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, “…let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness …”

When the Collect talks about the church, just like last week, it is not talking about buildings; it is talking about us.   Each of us; all of us and together.  We need Gods help (pity) to keep the group of us together following His Will, for without His Help (Holy Ghost) we are doomed to utter failure.  We can see this in the church today. The collect says we need His pity to cleanse our church of error and keep it on the straight and narrow. For without the cleansing effect of His pity and help of the Holy Ghost, error creeps in and corrupts the Church. We can see this today as many churches are leaving the Bible used for over 2,000 years and adopting newfangled translations which mangle His Word. These are not translations of the Bible, they no longer conform to the Holy Scriptures Christians have been using for the past two millennia, but are something influenced by man’s desires instead of God’s desires.  When they leave the theology Christ gave to us, they soon find they are on a broad easy path paved with smooth talking New Age pagan theology.  The problem is that Heaven is at the end of a hard and narrow uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.  That seemingly easy way leads to The Pit. The way of the easy to read Bibles with their corrupt non-Received Text manuscripts is not the way to go. They lead downward instead of upward. People think they are the same as the older Received Text manuscript Bibles, but they are wrong. This proves the truth of this collect, that without His help, we are doomed. With His help, we are set for success for evermore.  He offers, do we accept?

That leads us to Saint Pauls point:  If we will open our hearts to God, He will send the Holy Ghost to fill our hearts with Love, Courage, Inspiration, Tenacity and Confidence, to mention just a few helpful additions to our portfolio. In short, all of the things that will help our character development. Once the Holy Ghost enters into us, we will know the full dimensions of Christ, the height, width and depth of His love for us, and this fullness will fill us to our content, and we will want to spread that Good News and Love of Him to others.  This is what the truly the Good News is all about, His love for us. His love that He died that we might have eternal life, a happier life here and a happier life after our life here.  But the key is we have to first open our hearts to God. We cannot have any of these positive characteristics if we do not allow Him in. We have to be humble and realize we cannot get through life without these characteristics, which means we cannot have a good and successful life without His Help. 

He offers all of these things for our benefit, so that we will be successful for Him. We have to accept this offer by opening our hearts to Him.  One of my favorite cartoon strips Calvin and Hobbes, oft has great moral lessons.  Calvins dad so very often reminds Calvin that doing ones duty in the face of adversity builds character. It also strengths the soul building trust in God.  If we will open our hearts to Him, our ears will hear the command “… Arise.”  When we rise, we rise with the confidence of immortals and can conquer any obstacle. We will have died in our old sinful ways and be resurrected like our Lord in a new spirit and a new birth of everlasting freedom. But, without an open heart, our ears will never hear the command directed to our soul, “… Arise.”  We will be dead to eternity. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. 

Open your heart to our Lord and arise.  Arise; go forth with Love, Courage, Inspiration, Tenacity and Confidence to fight the battle our Lord leads us into.

All Jesus asks is that we follow Him.  That is all follow Him.  But, words mean something.  The word follow is very important. 

In the military fighter world the strongest acceptance and recognition of excellence that can be given is, "You lead; I'll follow."  For to do so is to put your life in the other's hands.  Literally, completely and without question.  It is a matter of putting the light on the star and hanging in there.   It is said by few to an even smaller number.  When you break out of the cloud after an hour of GE-28 Voltburning in your retinas and see the runway or pop over the ridge after a half hour of dodging trees and triple A and the target is right there in the reticle, or gunsight, it is all okay.  Sometimes in between, it does not seem like it will turn out that way.  What makes you keep the light on the star is trust. It is also like that in flight training, you have to trust that your flight instructor knows what he is doing to keep you from harming the airplane and that by following his guidance, you will keep both of you from significant harm physically. We have to trust God is like a perfect CFI and if we follow his instructions at the right time, we will keep ourselves from physical and spiritual harm. 

We need recognize who has the ability, the power, the perfection in leadership and have that trust to say, "You lead; I'll follow." I believe that is what Jesus expects from us in regard to our entire life. We may get out of position or even go lost wingman on the odd occasion, but he expects us to Our very best to follow His lead and stay in position. Hard to do if your eye is not padlocked on Him.

As ministers of our Lord, we have a similar responsibility to those who would follow us here on earth.  And we have to work even harder, for created by a perfect God, we are imperfect creatures with free will.  A problematic combination.  We have to strive to do better than most as we are in a position where people will be watching our actions more carefully than other people. We must strive for a correct attitude, heading, stability and predictability in our path so we can be followed towards that final destination marking a successful mission. We must always be checking our navigational instruments of the Holy Scriptures and our navigator the Holy Ghost, to ensure we are on the right heading. We have to be willing to do actions for Him to show that we truly do have faith and not just say that we have faith. It is a lot easier to say than do, that is for sure.  It is easy to get wrapped up in little words and over analyze each word of Scripture rather than just taking the whole with the faith of a Child and taking the big picture in, rather than a shred of tapestry close in.

When Saint Luke relates the story of the Widow of Nain, it is more than just a simple miracle.  

In those days, a widow with only one son had little, a widow with no son was in deep trouble.  Jesus took compassion on her and also took the opportunity to make His power evident.  He came to the bier, and touched it saying, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.”  The young man arose and began to speak; whereupon Jesus brought him to his mother. Not surprisingly, news of this event was spread “forth throughout all Judæa, and throughout all the region round about.”  Like the young man, we are dead to eternity until we hear the command “… Arise.”  If we hear and act on that command, we have eternal life, just like the young man, it starts right then! Eternal life doesn't start when you take your last breath, it starts when you take your first breath! Think through your life like it will be eternity and plan your actions accordingly.

Also, please take note Jesus ACTED.  He did not just tell the widow He was sorry, so very sorry; He actually did what He could to help her.  He can do more than we can, but we can do more than we do and we can certainly do more than just talk.  Words are very nice, but do not mean a whole lot unless they are backed by words.

If we truly have faith, then we will have good actions that will follow with that faith. If we only speak with our lips and do not have good actions, then we do not have any faith. However, if we do truly have faith, then we will speak the right things and do the right things.

Action, not diction, is what counts in the end.

Heaven is at the end of a hard and narrow uphill trail. The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s 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, “…Keep … thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and … keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation …”

When the Collect talks about the church, it is not talking about buildings; it is talking about us. The church is not a building, it is the army of believers following God. That is the church.  Each of us; all of us.  We need God’s Mercy and Grace to keep us from desiring those things that are bad for us and help us to see we really want those things that are good for us.

Speaking of things, just like the Jewish based Christians of Paul’s time, it often seems like everyone has secret rituals, handshakes or hoops they want you to jump through to be really IN.  Paul reminds us that all fall short, and special fancy diets, days or outfits do not change us.  We are all the same sinful human beings regardless of what special fancy days, diets our outfits we partake in. That does not change who we are. God does not require any sort of fancy diet, days or outfits to be IN with Him. In fact, they are rather counter productive to being IN with Him. They are just a distraction from following Him. All He asks is that we believe on Him and His Son Jesus and do our best to follow Him.  None of these fancy rituals churches have are keys to salvation. It is only by the Grace of God through our Lord Jesus we find real salvation.  Our salvation is not based on the ritual, the handshake or even the slice of the circumcision scalpel. Though those churches would have you believe otherwise, they are not effective in the salvation process in the slightest. They are not needed. For the action that led to our salvation was Jesus’s death and resurrection and has already happened one time for all time for all mankind. Salvation is based on His death and resurrection that we might have eternal life, not some rituals. He is the key to our salvation. He does not require for us to have any fancy garb or rituals, only to remember His death and passion that we might be partakers of His Heavenly Kingdom. He does not ask for much, only this simple thing; that we believe on Him, which is the key to getting into heaven. His Faith saves us, and we have to have faith in Him that He did those things, and act upon that faith. 

Our salvation comes one way, by the Grace of God through our Lord Jesus.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father but by Him. He is our salvation. He is the living embodiment of the Word of God. His faith has saved us and made us whole, not our faith. But we need to act for Him to show that we have faith in Him. It is not to us to decide the salvation, but by God through His Son, who died for our sins. This is what the whole Gospel is based upon. This is the solid foundation, as Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. We are not Cranmerians, nor are we Calvinists or Lutherans, but we are Christians first, who like the ideas of Cranmer, et al. We should never be identified as followers of man but of Christ and God. When one becomes a follower of man, he ends up following the Devil in a fashion; for if we serve ourselves, or follow ourselves, we tend up to end up in death. But if we follow Him, we have the gift of life as St. Paul explains For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord(Romans 6:23 KJV)

The problem with the folks that identify themselves as something other than Christian, is they start to believe more in the ideas of the person they are following, than the ideas of Jesus Christ and God, whom they are supposed to be following. They get lost in the theological rabbit hole and wander so far back, they’ve gone past where they were supposed to be, and got lost off the narrow uphill trail towards heaven, and end up on the wide downhill trail towards hell instead. They lose sight of the simple principles of Scripture and become more like the Pharisees in finding loopholes to get around. It is so easy to get lost in the ideas of the various theologians, even in that of John Calvin and Zwingli, that you forget that they were doing their best to be known as followers of Christ. They would frown upon those who identify themselves as Calvinists or Zwinglians, and not as Christians.

It does not matter whose theology you like the best, but what does matter is that you follow Scripture and God and Jesus Christ. In the end that is what will matter, not whose ideas you liked the best. Neither Calvin’s ideas nor Luther’s ideas can save, only Christ and God’s actions and words can save us and heal our souls. We must be dependent on God and not man for our earthly guidance.

We alone cannot enter into heaven without His help. We are imperfect creatures with free will, with a tendency to choose the wrong thing at the wrong time. We really need His help to get into heaven, and His help here on earth as well. We also need the help of the third God guy, the Holy Ghost. But, in order to have their help, we have to be dedicated to serving God, and not Man. If we focus on serving Man and not God, we do not have the Holy Ghost within us. 

For the Holy Ghost would never have us listen to the ideas of man and not God. So, we must take care and review what the leaders of the church say, for there are many who are not listening to God, but only care to please Men to get them to come into their churches. These men are the false prophets Christ has spoken of who disguise themselves as sheep to infiltrate the Church. As the times march on, there will be more of these false Prophets. In the end, people will have to choose who they want to serve, God or Man.

That brings us to Saint Matthew’s point, one cannot serve two masters.  Like that bad pun, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  You cannot travel both paths.  We must choose who we will serve: God or the world.  If we chose God, that does not mean we turn our back on the world around us, but rather we interface with the world using the Rules of Engagement given to us by our Lord.  We prioritize our actions with Him first.  Our family motto; God • Honor • Country • Familyis an example of this prioritization.  First things first.  Build from the inside out and the bottom up.  Do not mistake this motto for perfection, we have erred and strayed from our ways like every lost sheep, probably farther than most.  But we know which way is The Way and keep correcting back on course.  

Prioritization can be as a simple as coming home early on Saturday night so that you get a good night’s sleep and are ready for the Sunday church service.  It can be as complex as leaving a job that interferes with your honoring God, Country or Family.  First things first. God can help you make that decision; but you have to make it, He can’t make it for you.  He will not force use to make that decision, you of your own free will, will have to make that conscious decision and effort. The Holy Ghost will give you guidance on that front, but you will have to listen and it will be your responsibility to listen and then act upon that guidance.

Throughout the Bible we are exhorted to respect God, be honorable, work hard and take care of our families.  If we do these things, following God’s Will, our fiscal standing here on earth will be sound.  Follow these precepts, you will never be lacking, but you will never be inordinately wealthy, “Bill Gates rich” so to speak.  For to do that requires reprioritization to wealth in the first place. Replacing allegiance to God with allegiance to wealth is a one way ticket to a destination you don’t want. Allegiance to God is a more precious and valuable thing to have, for with it comes a priceless gift, eternal life. Eternal life is a gift that mankind has been seeking for the ages, but has not found.  But Jesus Christ offers that gift to us, as long as we follow Him to the best of our ability.

The last part of this reading is the one we often have the most trouble with.   We are far too ready to borrow trouble from tomorrow.  Every day, I pray at least twice for help with this.  It is getting better; I am confident on one thoughtful level no good comes of worry, yet I have such a hard time acting on that thought. It is a very difficult thing not to worry, but it is something that needs to be done nonetheless. I find as I trust God more and act upon His will more, I worry less. There is a correlation there I believe. It is a very hard thing to do, but it must be done, to ensure our success in spreading the Gospel and being an effective minister of God. Plus, worrying less will provide other benefits as well, and help us to lead happier lives. When we do what God asks, doing our best and not just saying it, there is not a lot to worry about. Even if there is, we can relax, knowing God has everything under control and He will always give us guidance on how to proceed.

God wants you to be happy; He knows what will make you happy.  God does not mind if you have fun along the way, but never pursue fun confusing it with happiness.  In the end, you won’t find either.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Today we talk consider The Law and how it failed to solve the problems of the people it was designed to help and think about how getting around technicalities is different than doing what is right.

Consider the words of the Collect, “…give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command…”

The Collects often are repetitive, in that we ask the same thing, week after week in differing ways.  Why is that?  Sadly, we have the same needs and the same failings week after week.  We are WEAK, we need God’s STRENGTH.  Today, we ask Him to help us, through the Holy Ghost, to increase our faith, to help us love what He wants us to do, to make His Wishes our wishes.  To make us want to follow Him that we might gain the prize which He has promised us. That prize is eternal life which begins when we accept it, not when we die. We need to realize this fact and adjust our lives accordingly. We have to shift our focus from the short term to the ultra long term (i.e, eternal) view of our actions. This will help us to become better spiritual stewards of the gifts which God has bestowed upon us.

In order to become those4 better spiritual stewards we will need that increase of faith, hope and love (charity is but another word for love) in order to be able to stay on the course that God has charted for us. By ourselves we cannot stay on course and would deviate from where God wants us to be.  We need God’s Help to maintain our course guidance. He is the ultimate and infallible navigator that will never get us off track. It will be up to us to let Him in so we can maintain our charted course towards Him.

That is why we are praying for that increase of faith, hope and love, so we can maintain that course guidance.  In order to stay on course, we need to listen to what He says and act upon it. Not just listen to what He says then go off and do what we want to do. This requires change on our part, modification of our behavior to follow Him. It requires actual action. This is the one constant of Christian living that is unavoidable. We cannot be considered true Christians and not act. For if we say we are Christians we need to perform those actions, which will truly identify us as believers. Like the tag-line at the end of my sermons, it is truly by our actions we are known.

The Holy Ghost will give us the vision we need to walk on the path towards God. It will be a very clear vision not blurry and distorted like the way of the World. It will define and light up the path that we are to follow, and then all that will be left is for us to actually move upon that path, closer to Him. It won’t be an easy and quick path, but it will be a sure path nevertheless and in the end that is all that matters, is that the path we have chosen, the hardest path is the surest one. The quick and easy shortcut would only lead to our spiritual doom.  

That brings us right in to Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and us!  We need to walk in God’s Word and in His Spirit.  Paul in this letter lists the behaviors that are not in accord with the Way of God.  All of those things that He lists are not how the Sons and Daughters of God should act. They are things we should be actively working on avoiding and or overcoming. These things are extremely detrimental to our spiritual and physical health. If we are of God, then we will act of God, only then will we be of God. 

Yet, God has the answer for us.  He sent His Son to bring it to us.  Who will listen?

The only people who listen are those who are in need, hurt, pain and despair.  Often it is because they, or one of their loved ones, are ill or injured, perhaps near death.  Perhaps they are unemployed or undergoing some family upheaval.  Their situation is less than perfect.  They need help and they know it.  In their own mind, they are the Samaritans of this world. It is no accident Jesus’ parables and stories center on actions, not words, thoughts and meditations.  Actions are who you are. Actions show the world who you follow, God or Mammon. You cannot truly be a believer if you don’t act for Him. Without action, there is nothing. The key driving principle behind his parables are actions for Him, are those of goodness, not of evil.  Those who believe on me keep my commandments.  

Actions!

Yet, those who turn to God in “need” are no different than each of us.  To quote Paul, “None are perfect, all fall short.”  We, each and every one of us, need God’s help.  Perhaps some need it more, none need it less.

When Luke tells us of Jesus and the ten lepers whom He heals and only one expresses thanks, do you think he is only telling of lepers?


Through our Lord, God is there for each of us if we will accept His help.  When He gives that help, how do we react?  Frankly most of us just think it our due.  We oft fail to give thanks for all that He gives us.

When we get an answer we don’t expect, do we thank Him? What if we get an answer?  Do we thank Him?

Like the lepers only one in ten will show thanks for the mercy and help given them.  Rarely do people give thanks for large efforts done to help them. We must endeavor to be grateful for Him and for all of those who strive hard to help us out in our times of need.  In the case of the lepers, it was the Samaritan[1], showing that fancy dress and rules are not as important as doing what is right and being grateful for what we are given.

Are you part of that 10 percent?

Remember, it is Pleaseand Thank Youthat are the magic words, not Pleaseand I don’t have time for you

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God


[1]Samaritan - Of or pertaining to Samaria, in Palestine. -- n. A native or inhabitant of Samaria; also, the language of Samaria. [1913 Webster]

Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism. They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation.  The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s 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:  “…whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises…”

In our prayer to God, we acknowledge that His only or greatest gift is that we are, through Him, able to give Him true service. For, it must be understood the only way we can really be happy is when we align our being with His Being.  We must be truly aligned, not trying to get around by using loopholes.  There is a big difference.  We are trying to live by the Big Picture and not worry about little things. Sometimes that is easier said than done.   But it must be done nethertheless. How do we accomplish this? First, we must trust God in our hearts, souls and minds. Then, we can love Him with all our hearts souls and minds, this creates a solid foundation for serving Him laudably throughout the rest of our days. This is the Summary of the Law.

To serve him, we have to truly love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  This is the first step to following Him. This is a follow on to last week’s message. This is because the Bible echoes itself at various points, especially in the New Testament. There are many themes that repeat in the New Testament; this is one of those themes. We need the help of the Holy Ghost in order to love Him with all of our hearts souls and minds, so we need to ask Him into our hearts; only then can we truly love Him with all of our hearts souls and minds. Then, you have to act upon your trust in Him. If you trust Him as a spiritual parent, then just like with your earthly parents, you will take His advice into consideration when acting. It will be like whenever you make a big decision in later years, you think of what your parents would counsel. So too will you think of the counsel God as your spiritual parent would provide.  In the old times, God had to prepare the people for the coming of Christ. So, the Law of the Old Testament was an intermediate step to prepare people for Jesus. People had to be trained to follow the basic moral laws, before they could even comprehend the message Jesus gave.

If we do what we should do, we will follow the little rules as a matter of course.  If we get the important things, the little things will follow soon after. The only rules that are important really come from:

1.    Love thy God with all thy heart and soul and mind;
2.    Love they neighbor as thyself. 

As Jesus says, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” He means all of the moral laws and preaching of prophets past can be traced back to these laws, which comprise the basis for all of the laws that would follow thereafter, especially the Ten Commandments.  The 613 Mosaic Laws can call be traced back to these two commandments. They are the “Basic Speed Laws” of the Christian faith; there is no way to get around these two and be within the spirit or the intent of the Law.

Trying to follow the Law failed to solve the problems of the people it was designed to help. This is because the people spent their time thinking about how to get around technicalities which is different than doing what is right. Complying with the Law is a different matter than finding loopholes around the Law. The Pharisees did the latter, and we should do the former.

In California, we have this law called The Basic Speed Law. It says you should drive no faster than is safe. If there is a section of road posted at 25 miles per hour, but it is really safer to go 15 mph, which is complying with the intent of the law?

The Pharisees would have you find a loophole in a 25 miles per hour zone for example, by just going 25 miles per hour. But, what if the area it is in is not safe for 25 mph, more like 15 miles per hour? Could you honestly think going 25 miles per hour in what is actually a 15 miles per hour area is within the intent of the law? No! It is the same with trying to go around the intent of the Law. We cannot honestly say we are doing something within the spirit of the Law, when we are only doing lip service to it. We must be within the intent or spirit of the Law, rather than trying to find ways around the Law.  Follow, not avoid.

With the Summary of the Law, we are meant to follow the spirit of the Law, which actually is to love God with all of our hearts souls and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we act in this spirit we are following the Summary of the Law or the framework for all of the other moral laws in the Bible. We have to think of whether our actions are following within in this spirit of the Law whenever we set out to do something. We must judge it by these two and see whether it is a righteous action and within the spirit of the Law or not. If it isn’t, then we should not do it. If it is, then we should do it. 

In the Epistle, we are reminded God chose Abraham not because he complied with The Law, for the Law was far into the future. God chose Abraham because he had faith, put his trust in God and desired to follow Him. These characteristics are to be a model for us as Christians. Have faith and put your trust in God and desire to follow Him to the best of your abilities.   The Law was an aid to man to help him be better when he had difficulty following God’s Will.  

If we do the same and put our trust in God, we will be able to perform the laudable service He so desires for the rest of our days. We have to keep this continuous process of faith and trust going. The best way to do that is to learn and absorb the Scriptures as a whole, to see the large picture of what He wants for us. The Law is a small part of the large picture, when we see how it ties into the New Testament, we have a far better understanding of what God wants in our lives, as individuals. Once you see how it fits into the larger picture, then you can see how your actions are part of the much larger picture of God’s Plan.  That is to follow the Great Commission, to spread the Gospel of our Lord, which will improve the lives of those who truly believe upon Him and bring true Happiness throughout the globe.

However, not everyone on the globe will follow Him, and they will not be truly happy as a result. An example of this are the Pharisees; religious lawyers who specialized in the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death, not life.  Their job was to help people not break The Law without unduly interfering with their lives by forcing them to embrace the intent of The Law.

When the Pharisee of the Gospel asked Jesus what he should do to gain eternal life, the Pharisee correctly summarized The Law: Love God; Love your neighbor.  He would have been fine had he stopped there. But, he had to show the Son how smart he was.  In doing so, the lawyer was about to learn the first lesson of lawyering, ‘Never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.’  So, he asked, ‘Who is my neighbor?  The answer, of course, is everyone but you; the rest of humanity.  But, as was often the case, Jesus presented the story of the injured man helped by the Samaritan, then asked, Who was neighbor to the injured man?
                                                                                                                                                        
The priest and the Levite would not see the injured man; there are none so blind as those who will not see.  They could or would not follow the second commandment of the Summary of the Law, of loving they neighbor as thyself. What ever the reason it ended in the same result, they turned their heads away and walked by not even thinking of the injured man and his suffering. They were too prideful to see the truth of loving they neighbor. They were too wrapped up in the riches and cares of this world. 

The material things of this world are temporary and they have blinded and ensnared many. This is the reason the Jews have not yet come to Christ and will not come to Christ. They care too much about the symbolic rituals of their Temple and are blind without the Holy Ghost. They are very much like many churches of today in that respect, caring about their position on Earth more than following God’s clearly stated will.  Focusing on this world, which is only a temporary state, is a foolish and fleeting thing. Things on this earth will corrupt and rust and pass away; but things in Heaven and life in Heaven will never corrupt and pass away. We should focus on things eternal, not on things temporary.  What they should focus on is their eternal life. While they claim to know the concept of Heaven, they truly do not know it or believe in it per se.  For it is action that demonstrates and validates claimed belief.

The Jews cared only about not breaking The Law on Earth and hoping that flawed concept would bring them salvation. No matter how they followed it, they could not obtain salvation on their own. The missing link to their solution was one that has been here since The Creation: Jesus Christ. They are searching for Him, but they cannot find Him, as He is right under their noses. He is right in front of them, but they will not see Him as their Messiah. So, they are doomed to always looking for Him, but never being able to find Him until they open up their spiritual senses. This is the problem with the World as well. They search for the answers He provides, but they will not acknowledge Him or His solutions.

The world would be better off if they learned the lesson the lawyer learned in today’s Gospel. You will also note the Samaritan, one of those separated from the chosen mass of Judaism, did his duty.  When he left the injured man at the inn, having given the innkeeper roughly two days wages, he said, “Do what need be done, if I owe more I will pay when I pass by next.”  You will note, he put no limit on his duty, he just committed to doing what needed to be done, regardless of cost.  

The lawyer to his credit answered honestly, “He that shewed mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Right is not a matter of quantum; it is not a matter of majority rules or public opinion; actions speak louder than words. 

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them.  

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God