Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trinity Sunday


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.  

Today’s sermon covers the basic concept of the Triune God, that is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and how they were introduced to us through time and the Bible in particular; it draws the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity

In the Collect, we acknowledge there is a Triune God, that is to say there are three aspects of God; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.  A Triune God means literally Three in One, not three separate Gods or godlets, but a single being with three aspects.  How does this work?

The honest answer is – WE DON’T KNOW.  We have not been told of how this Being operates. We just have been told that there are three and They are ONE.  We have some knowledge and scriptural guidance on how parts of the thing work, but not all.  Saint Paul told the people of Corinth, 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)One of the basic principles of classified information is that it is only to be revealed to those who have an actual NEED TO KNOW, not just the curious.  Like many secrets, we don’t really have a need to know, so we have not been told.  

What we do know is:

·     God is I AM;
·     God the Father sent The Son to be our Savior, He was there at the beginning and created this world;
·     The Holy Ghost breathed life into the world, and brings understanding, comfort, strength, perseverance, courage, inspiration, patience;
·     They all have always been and always will be.

That is what we know; it leaves a lot we don’t know, but we can certainly be kept busy with what we do know.  What we do know is that what we have must be enough for the here and now. It should enough for us to operate on His Word with our simple and limited understanding of the Trinity. We must be content with what we read in Scripture, all the other stuff we wonder about Him are just extraneous details, like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  So much theological discussion is captured in that term.  So, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  Whatever the number, the answer from our standpoint is so very simple; As many as God determines the circumstances require.  Note, as Godrequires!  Not you, not me.  God.  Trying to think about those intricate details that we do not know or understand only serves as a distraction from following God and doing what He asks. He does not want us to speculate on how the Three in One concept works, but rather just understand it is and go forth and follow Him to the best of our abilities.

We must put aside the thoughts of who and what God is, and just understand He is I AM, there is God, there is the Son, there is the Holy Ghost and they all work together in their own way to be the one God of our faith. There is a reason for this even though we don’t know it, but it works out, so we do not have to wonder how it works, we just continue believing and acting!

But, what of later?  If we have eternal life, we have it now and later.  What comes later?  Heaven.  What is heaven?  In the epistle John attempts to describe to us what Heaven is like.  He attempts to show us the majesty and glory of heaven using words. The picture he paints is intended to be awe inspiring and seems to meet that goal handily.  The main thing we can be certain of is that we will not be disappointed.  We speculate as to will this or that be in heaven?  When we get there, the answer will manifest itself and you will have no regrets.  John’s description should serve to tell us heaven will easily surpass all of our expectations. He is trying to convey Heaven is a destination truly worth our earthly toils. In heaven, there is no disappointment.  Heaven is the real world, where things are bright, not dull and dark as though looking through a glass.  Rest assured, we will see for ourselves what it is like one day, all we need to know is that it is a really wonderful place we should be aiming to go to when we die, through our belief and actions here on earth working together!

So, how do we get to the real world from these Shadowlands?  There is but one way, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.[1]

Do not be fooled by “there are many paths to God” which seems to be the way of the world today, there is only one way into heaven. All roads do not lead to heaven. Many lead to the pit, but out of the many roads, there is only one narrow uphill path which will get you to heaven. Doing good is good, so to speak; doing good without God is not good enough.  Only being accounted perfect will get you up the path and in the door.

One thing is clear, in order to traverse this narrow uphill trail we need help!  Lots of help as a matter of fact.  The first thing we need in our hearts is a new heart, a new and contrite heart. This is what Jesus was telling Nicodemus in the Gospel. He was explaining how we need a new heart in order to continue to serve God.  The Pharisees could not or would not see that their hearts were not good enough on their own to serve Him, as ours are not if they are not regenerated. That is really hard, in fact, it is so hard it cannot be done by ourselves.  We need something like turning over a new leaf so to speak. There is a way as a matter of fact for us to do this.

We must be born of the spirit! What spirit?  

The Holy Ghost.  We must accept we in and of ourselves will never be perfect.  Our hearts as they are will not lead us towards God, but away from God unless we have the help of the Holy Ghost! No one gets in to heaven unless they are accounted as perfect.  We will never be perfect in and of ourselves.  Should we quit trying?  No!  We are commanded to follow our Christ.  Will we fail? Without question.  What is the solution?  To believe and follow the Christ.  To open our hearts to the Holy Ghost that we might believe in full and accept the help from the Christ that our imperfection needs to be His followers.

To follow God, we need Christ as our leader and the Holy Ghost as our compass. In short, we need all members of the Trinity’s influence in our lives if we are to arrive in the real world, that of Heaven.

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.

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]1 St. John ii. 1, 2 and Book of Common Prayer, page 76

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Pentecost commonly known as Whitsunday

Sermon – Reverend Hap 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.  

Once again, today’s propers come together very well, their focus is narrow, thus powerful.

Consider these words from the Collect:

… sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort…

When Jesus left on Ascension Day, we lost a teacher here on earth.  We still have Him in our memories as Redeemer and Savior; but what to do for understanding and that needed closeness to God?  In response to His departure, God sent us the Holy Ghost.

Who is this Holy Ghost and why is he here?

We worship the One True God, a triune God, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Most people have no trouble understanding the concept of God the Father, Christians seem to get God the Son, but many seem to have a difficulty with the Holy Ghost, the Third God Guy.

The Holy Ghost has been there since the beginning.  He breathed life into the world, yet His actions seemed to be sporadic until Pentecost. 

Well, today is Pentecost, the time one normally thinks of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, the Comforter.  When people do think of Him, they oft think of the actions described in the words of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  The dancing and speaking in tongues.  All that happened so we might understand with the help of the Holy Ghost we might bring the Word to all mankind.  The Word of God is a universal language.  When the disciples spoke in tongues, the people around them heard the Word in their own language, not an odd combination of sounds that no one understood.  The disciples spoke and were heard by those around them in their own language, not Klingon. It is not for us to speak in tongues without study; that was a one shot deal.  It was designed to show us we could and should with hard work and persistence bring the Gospel to the world in the language of the people. It showed we were in fact to preach the Gospel to all nations, not just the nation of Israel, but to all the nations of the World. The many nations of the fallen race of Adam comprise those to whom the Good News is to be spread. Which is why God sent the Holy Ghost; so we would understand it is for us to bring the light of Christ into the world for all to see and believe upon. He is here so we can understand and then act upon His Word. He is here to provide us with the guidance and understanding necessary to preach and spread the Word into the far regions of the Earth. The Holy Ghost allows us to spread His Word amongst all the people in the world to give them the knowledge that they might open their heart to the Holy Ghost and believe. He opens our eyes to what is good for us and what is not good for us, so that we know what to believe and what not to believe. 

We need the Holy Ghost if we are to follow Christ’s Great Commission. He knew we would need the Holy Ghost if we were to have any success in this endeavor. However, He also knew He needed to leave if the Holy Ghost were to come and stay, so the Holy Ghost’s coming had to wait until after the Ascension. He had it planned out so the disciples would not be without a direct connection to Him for very long. 

The Holy Ghost also helps us to give the “righteous judgment” the Collect speaks of. This judgment is not the same as God’s final judgment on our performance, but it is a judgment based on Scriptural values, with the Holy Ghost’s help, we can make on our lives and others lives, based on how we see it through the lens of the Holy Ghost and Scripture. It is not to insult people, but to be truthful from the standpoint of Scriptures and be able to say certain behaviors do not line up with Scripture, i.e. homosexuality and abortion. To say those behaviors are not Christian is a righteous judgment statement the Holy Ghost helps us determine. 

The Holy Ghost is also our direct connection to God. When Jesus left, the disciples were distant from God. When they were not near Jesus, they did not do as well as when they were with Him. As with the righteous judgement, the Holy Ghost helps us to align our actions and views with that of Scripture. The Holy Ghost helps us to properly understand and apply Scriptural principles in our own lives. Note Peter’s actions after the arrest of Jesus for an example, thrice denying His Lord. The Holy Ghost came so we would have understanding and a direct connection to God, wireless as it were, instead of having to be tethered to Christ.  This is how He can always be with us, even though He is not physically with us at the present time. We will never have to fear anything as long as He is with us, for if He is with us, who should we be afraid of, if we are on His side?

If we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we will never be far from Him, and He will never be far from us. We have to consciously let Him into our hearts, He will not come uninvited into our hearts. The Holy Ghost helps us understand Scripture and gives us guidance on our earthly lives, as we work towards staying on the straight and narrow path towards heaven He will be a constant guiding presence in our lives, that will give us peace in times of trouble, and will help us guide and focus our minds in our worship of God.  He will give us inspiration and help us to do what is right for our fellow Christians and friends, while staying true to God. He will light our paths in difficult times and trials and will give us the guidance we need to finish our race for God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He would be leaving, but the Father would send a facilitator; one who whose presence, if we let Him into our hearts, would bring understanding of His Word into those self-same hearts.  The Comforter would bring the Love of God into our hearts to let us feel His Love.  He will help us understand we are striving to be one with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Ghost.  Our love is demonstrated by our actions.  Jesus points out those who do not truly love Him will not keep His Commandments. However, if we truly do love him, we must act for Him and by doing so will keep his commandments.  This is only possible if we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts then believe and ACT upon our faith! This is a point made time and time again in Scriptures. We need to be doers of the world, not just hearers, to paraphrase Saint James. For if we love Jesus, we cannot do otherwise than He asked.

If you think about it, you will recall the second half of the Book of Lukeis titled The Acts of the Apostles.  It is not the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings, the meditations, the inner feelings or any other touchy feely thing, it is the ACTS.  If you believe, you must act on those beliefs. The Holy Ghost is here to help us know how to act, we will just have to let Him into our hearts, and then ACT. 

We need the help of the Holy Ghost to learn what we are to do, how we are to do it and most of all to do it.  Action, not just diction.

Pray for His continual presence in your heart.

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, June 2, 2019

The Sunday after Ascension Day


Sermon – Reverend Hap 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.  

Once again the propers for this week come together very well, their focus is narrow, thus powerful.

Consider these words from the Collect:

… leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before…

In some ways, today is no different than the very First Sunday after the Ascension.  Jesus has ascended in to heaven, we are alone and physically separated from God who gives us the strength we need to do His Will.  Like Peter and the cock who crew thrice, the further we are from God, the weaker we are.  Thus, we are looking towards Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Ghost.  We ask for God’s help we might have the true belief, courage, knowledge and strength to follow Jesus to heaven for all eternity. That help is on the way in the form of the Holy Ghost.  On the othe hand, it is different today than two thousand years ago.  We actually have the real presence of the Holy Ghost, here and now.  He does not ebb and flow with the liturgical year; where would we be if He did?
                                                                                   
The end of the earth and this world may come at any time, indeed for 313,000 people each day, their time here is up.  Thus, in a very real sense as Saint Peter put it, “The end of all things is at hand…”  So, how should we act?  We are to do what we can with a smile on our face.  We should act as if it was our last day on earth. We need to be mindful of the fact that at any time, the world may well end for each of us. In other words, if this was our last day on this planet, how would we act? That is a question we all must ask more often and not only ask it, but answer it. The answer comes with the help of the Holy Ghost, who could only come once Jesus left. That is one of the reasons Jesus ascended into heaven. He left so the Holy Ghost could come down and dwell amongst us and in us to provide us with the guidance we need to follow God.

We have to wait and hear what the Holy Ghost has to say before we act. Then once thatHoly Spirit has given the answer, we must act upon the answer. This is a continuous cycle and we must always prioritize our work to be for God, our Country, Family, friends and co-workers in that order and things will fall in line. Along these lines, we must strive to work hard, take care of those who cannot and be good stewards of the considerable grace God has given us. This does not just refer to spending MONEY, but rather to giving of our time and effort to bring the Gifts of God to others. We must give ourselves entirely to help those in need of that help, so we may share the benefits of the Gift of God truly. Only then we will know the grace of God’s love truly.  We are to share the LOVE in our hearts with those we encounter, for Love is of God. And the Holy Ghost will help us spread that love to others in our lives. We are called not to hoard love, but to spread it throughout our travels. For as love is of God, then it follows there is an infinite supply of love.  In fact, love multiplies with use, so there is more than infinite amount of love out there.

For as Saint Peter says in his Epistle this morning, charity (love) truly does cover a multitude of sins. So, when we do things for others, the driving force behind our actions should be that of charity, or love, for our fellow human beings and not any self-seeking motivation. Charity will cover for our multitude of sins, but we need to be thinking how we can help others. It is the greatest of gifts God and the Holy Ghost gives to us; a gift we find ourselves needing to use more often. The Holy Ghost is key in giving us the desirable thoughts and attributes that we need to carry out His Plan on Earth. He also helps us deal with our less desirable thoughts and attributes and helps us deal with very difficult people and situations. Turning to the Holy Spirit in those very stressful times will reduce the burden on your heart and shift it from you to God, giving you the clarity you need to act for Him, to be able to act in an effective and Christ like manner.

But, without the Holy Ghost, the needed action on our part is impossible.  We need God’s help and He sent it in the form of the Holy Ghost. He sent it as the “Comforter”, that is to Comfort us and to Guide us on the journey on the narrow uphill path towards heaven. The Holy Ghost is that portion of God who can enter our hearts bringing understanding, hope and most of all the courage and determination to do what needs be done.  Those who will not have Him in their hearts can never understand God and His Will.  That is why they cannot understand or fathom the plan He has for us. They cannot understand why we follow God and Christ. They do not believe; therefore, they cannot have Him in their hearts, and therefore they will not understand. The end of time is nearer each day than the day before, of that we can be certain. But there is a certainty we have in this uncertainly world, the unfailing love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus and the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, if we let Him in, and the inerrant Holy Scriptures to guide us throughout the rest of our lives. With this knowledge of an unchanging standard, we can stand fast by this standard and be content knowing we are following the One True Triune God, and though we may physically suffer a while, it is nothing to enjoying eternity with God. We just have to DO and ACT our best for Him here; though it may be hard, it will be worth it in the end. 

The current world climate, even in this country, is less hospitable than in centuries to Christians.  There is a reason for this which only God understands and not us. God has a plan for all of this.    In time, we will realize what the plan is. But for now, we are unaware of His plan in the greater scheme of things. But what it is doing is solidifying the faith of true believers around the globe, forming the Army of Light together, ready to battle against the malicious forces of Satan. We cannot make this journey alone.  We must have the close and continuous presence of God.  That presence is the Holy Ghost.  That is why He is here.

Pray for His continual presence in your heart.

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, May 26, 2019

Fifth Sunday after Easter, commonly called Rogation Sunday


Sermon – Reverend Hap 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.  


We are on the last Sunday in the Easter Season, which consists of Easter and the following five Sundays, the last of which is Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same…

As we near the Ascension and thus Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Ghost, we ask for God’s “holy inspiration we may think those things that are good.”  We need help from the Holy Ghost to direct our souls to the things we cannot see as good without His Help.   Once we see them, we need His “merciful guiding” so we “may perform the same…”. After all, what good is it to know what we should do, if we won’t, can’t or don’t do it?

That brings us right to Saint James’ point, we gain our salvation through the freely given gift of Grace by our Lord Jesus Christ.  Once given, it must be accepted. If we truly accept the gift, it will be evident in our actions.  Our actions will naturally reflect we are hearers and doers of the Word, and not just hearers only.  If we really believe, we are compelled to actualize that belief, to make it real in these Shadowlands as we await transfer to the Real World.

If you are going to be a Christian, … the key is right there – BE.  Being requires action, not just diction.  Many can and will talk the talk or portions thereof, but will they walk the walk? Being a Christian requires both, which may be very difficult sometimes, but it must be done. It is the only way we will have salvation through Christ.  If we are with Him, we will act with Him and for Him. If you are a Christian, what you say is of no import compared to what you DO.  Do your actions reflect God’s image or that of the other guy?  Who do you put first?  Pretty basic questions that often we don’t like the answers to. But they must be answered nevertheless, all the same. 

We must align our lives to be able to show people we do follow Christ. There are too many people who claim to be Christians, who are clearly not, because their lives do not reflect their stated belief. We must not let this happen. We must show the truth of John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” To show this truth we have to live that truth through our actions. It is not just enough to say we know the Word of God, if we truly know the Word of God, we will act upon that Word of God and serve Him in this life. 

Without Christ’s guiding light, we are not on the path to holiness and righteousness. We must show this in our lives, by living and breathing His Word, and using His Word to guide us throughout our lives. These are all actions we naturally take which demonstrate we have belief and are acting upon that belief.  This is important to our souls for our spiritual health, and as well as our physical health too. We need all the Help of the Holy Ghost to keep us on this path. How do we keep on this path?

We find a lot of help in John’s words, he gives us insight into things which none of the other disciples do.  We need help.  We pray for help. Pray for help that we might act, and that is how we keep on the straight, narrow and uphill path.  So, what about prayer?  Let’s start with to whom do we pray? 

Jesus is pretty clear.  Don’t pray to Him, pray to God.  Feel free to use His Name.  Pray to God in His Name.  In effect, we are CC’ing (Carbon Copying, to use an archaic term which as transitioned to an electronic mail (email) term) Jesus in our prayers. We are not to put Him in the To: line, but the CC line. Not addressing Him directly, but to address God directly with Jesus copied, as it were. He tells us God loves us because we love Jesus.  But, pray to God. I think not many people have ever understood this part of scripture, as I have heard people pray to Jesus when he is not the correct person to address your prayers to. He specifically tells us to direct the prayers to His Father who will help us.

If that is the case, seems like it pretty much rules out praying to Saint Bob, does it not? If we are not to pray to Jesus, why would we be praying to a Saint?  We would be praying to a human, who we may or may not put any trust in. But if we pray to God, we can be certain He will answer us, and even if we don’t like the answer, we know that is the course we will have to take. It doesn’t matter if we like God’s answer or not, we still have to listen to it, and do it anyway, knowing it will be the right path in the end. We will always have some sort of a struggle with this in our lives, but if we turn to God, He will help us win our struggle. 

We have to listen to His Answer and think on it and then act upon His Answer and not just dismiss it. Dismissing it is all too easy for us to do, since we are naturally inclined to follow our natural desired, not His. But we have to think that dismissing His Answers will not gain us anything in the long or short term.  We need to listen to His Answers and then act upon them, which will be the key to true happiness within our lives. 

We have to realize what we truly need and ask that He will open our hearts, minds and souls to His answer that we might act upon His answer. The critical portion is that we act upon the answer that we are given, to do our best for Him and that our friends, family and coworkers and neighbors might see the light we shine for Him and see who we follow in word and in deed. We must show others not just through our words, but through our actions that we truly belong to Christ’s flock. We must show great love for our fellow man, even to the point of death, through our actions, to reflect Christ’s love for us, that He too loved us even to the point of death.

So, pray to God, ask for what you want in Jesus’ Name. He always listens and He always delivers.  The problem for us is He delivers what we need, not necessarily what we want. Our wants and our needs are oft different, in fact they are seldom the same. But we should want what we need, and God will help us understand that, if we be a doer and a hearer of His Word. He will always give us what we need, but will we listen to what He wants us to do?

Needand want, they are both four letter words, oft used interchangeably, which do not mean the same thing.

God’s Will is always done, we just don’t understand. Accept what happens as acceptable, so long as you have done all you can.  In the end, all that counts is where you go when you leave here.  That depends on your actions in following Jesus’ instructions.  If you believe, you are safe.  Now and forever.

Ø Talk the Talk;
       AND
Ø Walk the Walk.

It is 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, May 19, 2019

Fourth Sunday after Easter

Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and Scriptural readings for this week. 

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, through Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found

The very first phrase is critical to understanding our relationship with the world.  We want to follow our own hearts, that is theunruly wills and affections of sinful men, and they will lead us down the path to Donkey Island and eventually the pit.   Our natural will and affection is towards sinful things and not those of God. We do not have naturally peaceful and loving wills and affections; rather those of of violence and evil doing. It has been that way ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God’s commandments to us are to re-shape our affections from things of mammon, to things of eternity. This is what the collect is talking about when it says “who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men”.  Only God can help us to re-shape those sinful wills and affections. It requires tweaking our perspective on what is best for us to match with what God knows is the best for us. He knows us far better than we do, and knows what is actually best for us. We have one hope; that we will listen to the instruction God freely offers us. If we will just do what He asks we will find true joy. 

We have to internalize His commands into our hearts through listening and then through repetition, action.  This is the only way we can follow His Commandments and show the World we follow Him. It is not enough to hear the Word only, we need to live the Word. Showing others that we are dedicated to following the Lord, and not just saying that we are following the Lord is how we can truly follow Him. For all of the above to happen we have to let God into our hearts, souls, minds and bodies and let His Directions carry us through life. We have to allow room in our soul and hearts for the Holy Spirit to operate and give us that direction. We have to overcome our resistance to letting Him in, so that we can let Him in.  Because we cannot change ourselves; we need God’s help, also the Holy Spirit’s help, in changing ourselves. We have to do a hard boot to use computer speak and restart our lives in a new direction, 180 degrees opposite from our previous, more sinful lives.

Our life will be better when we follow His directions and if we will allow God to rule us and desire His help, we will be able to attain the state of happiness we will then deserve. He knows what is right and what is wrong for us. He does not want us to lead so called puritanical lives with no fun allowed whatsoever, but we must have fun the right way and not the wrong way. The right way can lead to a lifetime of happiness, whereas the wrong way leads to a life time of misery. Many people think that God forbids things for us, because He does not want us to have fun. Nothing can be further from the truth. He forbids things harmful for our spiritual well being, and allows us to have clean spiritual, joyous things in our life to develop our spiritual well being. Those people confuse the things that are harmful for our spiritual well being with fun and think that the things that are actually helpful for our spiritual well being are not fun. When it is completely not the case. The Holy Spirit will help us to truly see what is harmful for us and what is not harmful for us.

We need God’s help (this is one of the places the Holy Ghost comes in) to be able to want for ourselves that which He Wants for us. If we can desire what He Wants, our ability to follow His Instructions will be much enhanced. And not only will they be much enhanced, but the more we follow His Instructions, the easier it will be for us to continue on that straight and narrow path towards heaven.

We are God’s creatures, first among all His Creation with all the privileges (which we like) and all the responsibility (which we are not so keen on) which come with that status.  All good comes from God, who is always with us; always the same; a true bearing in world in a constant state of flux. While the world may change, the Word will never change, no matter what happens in the world today. His Word is refreshing constant, in this world where things are changing every few years it seems, but His Word will never change. Its meaning never changes, as God never changes. As God is truth, which by its nature cannot change, so should we never change in our beliefs towards Him. It is refreshing to have Him in our lives as a constant we can always cling to when we get in trouble. Whenever it is a simple problem, such as a computer program malfunctioning, or a complex problem, we can turn to Him in our day of trial and find ourselves comforted.  We need to listen to not only Him, but those around us, think before we speak, think more before we act in haste.  We must put ourselves to good and separate ourselves from evil and superfluity of naughtiness so we can hear His Word, which will save our souls.

So, how can we hear?

When Jesus got ready to leave this world for His, He told the disciples that He would send them the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to keep them in Him and to help them understand what they had so far been unable to truly grasp.  Unless we allow the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts, we will never understand that which is from God.  This is an important concept with messages that are not from God being bombarded across the world through principalities and powers of this world. Only the Holy Ghost can help us remain grounded within the truth. We need the Holy Ghost to enter into us that we might be able to hear the Word of God, and more important than just hearing the Word, we need the Holy Ghost to be able to act upon the Word. We must allow the Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts and souls so we can understand what God has for us.  It is that simple.  Open your heart, pray for God to send Him into that open heart. 

For with the Holy Ghost’s help, you can hear, understand and act on The Word.

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, May 12, 2019

Third Sunday after Easter

Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and Scriptural readings for this week. 

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, through Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same

God is a Triune God; Father, Son, Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost’s job is to open our souls, hearts and minds to God’s Will.  It is to help us see where we are in error and how to fix those errors.  Thus, to open our “ears” to His Voice so we can listen and make our improvements based on His Words.  As is oft the case, the Collect really asks us to let the Holy Ghost in so He can change us.    Consider this quote from Jack Lewis out of Mere Christianity:

“When He said, ‘Be perfect,’He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

It does not matter if it is hard for us to listen to the Holy Ghost, we must do it.  If we will listen to Him, God will always provide the light to show us where “We have erred, and strayed from Hisways like lost sheep. Where we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. Where we have offended against His holy laws. Where we have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done[1]…”   He will shine His Light onto the dark areas in our heart and souls so we can focus on eliminating that darkness from within us. He does this so that we can turn to the path which brings us to His World.  For without that guiding light, we will be forever lost on the path to darkness.

Then we can shine that Light for others to see, to lead them to that Light, that they might pick up their torches and bring His Light into the darkness of the world, be it the Western Civilized Word or the Eastern World. First, we have to let His Light into our hearts before we can shine it to others that they may see the works of His Light. We cannot lead others to a Light we do not have within us. So, we must first make sure we have the Light of the Holy Ghost within us before we can think of leadings others to that Light.

We can start in our own little corner of the world and work our way outward. We are always striving to work towards total transformation of our area to the light. However, we will always find opposition from evil. If evil is thwarting our efforts then we all must put in 110% to stop evil and combat it across the world wherever it is. We must never, never, never, ever give up on this fight.  

We must fight evil wherever and whenever we run across it. Evil anywhere is Evil everywhere[2].  We must not let the little and big evils in this life get us down or defeat us. We must rely on the guiding power of the Holy Ghost and God’s unlimited grace to save the day. His Grace can help you out of any horrific situation; only if you ask for and accept His help, which is a universal theme in our sermons here, because it is a truth and one that Jesus preached, that is that we have to accept Him into our hearts, if we are to become truly Christians. 

Peter tells us our actions need to be consistent with the principles of Scripture and of Jesus’ message. In short, we need to be good citizens, be good neighbors, take particular care of our Christian family. In short, do what Christ would do, as far as it is in us. We need to cling to the good and reject the evil thoughts and actions of our old sinful selves.  Let us do our best to think, in hard and trying times, what would Jesus do in our situation, and then act in a manner most like Him. In order to make the world a better place, we first have to start with our selves then work out word, applying the principles of Christ to our lives. God does not ask us to be perfect; He does ask us to do our best to try to be perfect, to follow Jesus’ lead to the extent we have it in us.  Each of us is different, some are in truth less bad than others.  God holds us each to the same standard, that is to do our best.  Not to be better than any other particular person, but to do our best to follow His Instructions.  Being better than someone else is of no account, what is of account is following His Instructions to the best of YOUR ability.  

Don’t think of trying to be better than your neighbor, think of being better than you are. We are not competing against anyone. We are just striving to be better than we were yesterday. If we do this, then we will improve day by day, year by year.

In the Gospel according to Saint John, Jesus tells of His impending bodily death and resurrection.    He reminds us if we have eternal life, sorrow, even the sorrow of death is transient, for He has conquered death. It is a very minor thing in the long term view the sorrow of a temporary parting of a loved one. For that is all that is, if we put our trust and hope in God and do our very best to follow Him.  We have to keep this in mind throughout our travel along the straight and narrow upward path. His One Sacrifice, made One Time, for All Mankind, for All Time is that joy that no man can take from us.  But, if we want to share in that eternal life, we need to see the error of our ways in the Light of His Light and take actions to follow Him.

Often it seems much easier to take the path of least resistance, to quit our work at the first sign of effort, to goof off when “no one” is looking.  But in the end, the right thing to do is always the easiest, the most profitable. The one that will result in happiness. It might seem hard, but it will not be as hard as doing the “easy” thing.

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

It is by our actions we are known.

As we go off on our business, please recall this quote from GK Chesterton:

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God


[1]General Confession – BCP Page 6
[2]Lord of the Rings