Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the second Sunday before Lent.

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

Consider these words from the Collect:

…put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity …

In the Collect, we tell God we put our trust for eternal life not in our actions, but in His Power.  If we do this, then we must do as He asks us.  For, to make trust in His Power rational, we must follow His Direction. We cannot trust our own sense of direction for spiritual matters, but must look to Our Heavenly Father for guidance. If we do not follow His Direction then we are surely going be just as lost as before we accepted Him into our hearts. It would be foolish to think that we could guide ourselves, when in fact we need Him to guide us. The problem is that often, at least in my case, pride gets in the way of seeing that I/we need to rely on Him for guidance. We need Him as our navigator to guide us along the rocky paths of life, so we don’t crash into the rocks of Sin and Death! We need His directions if we are to proceed upon the path to Heaven.

The Collect also goes on to explain His Power will give us defense in adversity. His Power is the only real power which can help us in times of trouble and sorrow. It is the only power which will give us comfort in times of adversity and give us the strength to get through those times. 

We may think we can get ourselves through trouble, but that is only us deceiving ourselves.  Thinking this way can lead us digging ourselves a bigger hole so to speak. We need to stop digging and look to the One who can help us and let Him into our hearts to guide us. We need to recognize God has the power to help us overcome adversity. 

All the goodness and greatness we have within us, is not sourced from us, but from the Holy Spirit and God. It comes from God and He fills our hearts with the goodness we ourselves cannot generate on our own. In order to have that goodness within us, we need to be following His Directions to the very best of our abilities. It may be hard at times and we might make mistakes and fall down from time to time, but we need to get back up on the horse so to speak and re set our course anew.

This squares with what Paul tells us, salvation, honor and glory come not from what we do or have done, but rather from God.  It is not our deeds which procure our salvation, but God and His Son’s deeds. Our deeds next to His are not comparable and are not worthy of the honor and glory that His are. We must recognize this fact and we should turn to Him, not ourselves, for guidance.  Following His Word is where the salvation, honor and glory come from. And that is also to whom we should give credit and not us. We haven't earned the credit; so we should give it to whom it is due, that is to God our Father. 

Nothing that we have done as far as anything good or significant is not from us on our own volition, but from God. He will guide us through all of our life’s trials, if we let him.  That is one of the problems with many people today, and not only today but in the past, the present and the future, is that they believe that they have made their own goodness and own deeds. They do not realize they are not the source of their good deeds, but God is. They do not recognize the role God has in guiding good actions and instead lay claim to the glory that isn’t theirs to claim. In essence, they are stealing God’s glory and not giving credit to whom credit is due. Paul, who as Saul, had been a super star on his way to being the number one rabbi in the Hebrew nation, was more learned, more vigorous in following the law, more vocal in all things.  When he “saw the light” and converted, he took that same approach to Christianity.  No one was more in anything than he.  He had been the worst of the worst and was the best of the best.  Yet, through God, now he was keenly aware of how short he himself fell.  But even more importantly, he was keenly aware of the saving perfection of Christ. 

From his early days as the chief persecutor of the Church, to the main missionary of Christ’s Church, from this timeline he could tell us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example. He told us these things not to glory himself, but to show the glory and honor that comes from on high, from following His Word. He wanted to show us how God’s Grace and mercy changed His life and got Him through some pretty awful times. And also, He can get us through both the good and bad times and that in both we should never stop praising and honoring Him. He wanted to highlight God’s saving power and Grace, which had helped him, and show us how it can help us as well. He wanted us, other Christians to learn from his example and to do their best to follow Him. Thus, he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves.  Do your best and look towards God.

This brings us right in to the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike.  

Like the seed sown by the sower, The Word is spread throughout the world for all to hear and act on:

·      Yet, some will not even hear The Word (Hard ground);
·      Others will hear, act quickly and abandon God’s help at the first sign of adversity (Stony ground);
·      Still others will hear The Word, but The Word is overtaken by the “pleasures” of this world and is choked out by them.  Like the line from the Bible, where your money is, that is your worldly effort, there is the evidence of your heart.  The temptation of this world is great, the reward from God is far greater, but you have to look long term;
·      Finally, we come to those who accept and act on The Word, like the one seed growing into a great plant bearing its fruit, the rewards are manifold, though the effort is also great, the end reward far greater.  For the seed to grow to full fruition and glory, with its manifold blessings, it must have the ground prepared, carefully tended against encroachment of the evil weeds, it must be continually watered by the life blood of those around it.  There is much effort required on our part, but the ultimate reward is so much greater.

While we are on the subject, consider the issue of weeding.  Is this not part of the reason for the Church, that is to say the body of believers, to exist?  Often we cannot pull our own weeds, but we can help others and they can help us.  We cannot pull our weeds alone, but with help, we can remove them one by one. Christianity is not a religion of hermits; it is a social religion where we can help each other.  This is why it is best that believers attend a Bible believing Church, where they can get valuable friendship and from that friendship, spiritual mentoring for their day to day lives.

So, think about this, we need to understand eternal life and indeed on a shorter term, happiness in our life here, comes not from our self-directed actions, but those of God and our action following His direction. If we follow our self-directed actions, we will find death and misery awaiting us. However, if we put our trust in Him and follow His commands, we will “live long and prosper” to quote Spock. Do your best and look towards God for the Light to illuminate your path.  If you prepare your heart, as the farmer prepares the field, root out the forces of this world as the farmer roots out weeds, cultivate the good given by God, water your heart with His Water, your life will be manifold.

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?

Action, not diction.  It is by our actions we are known!


Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Sunday called Septuagesima, or the third Sunday before Lent

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

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness …


In the Collect, we ask God who knows we should be “…justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour …”  To get into heaven we need to be accounted as perfect.  Yet, we cannot be “cured” of sin nor “improved” to perfection. So how do we solve this irregularity? We are imperfect creatures with free will, the most confounding combination ever created for salvation.  We know we ourselves cannot solve our dilemma.  Who can?  There is a solution for us!  Consider the words of John Newton near the end of his life, “Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!” The answer lies in the latter part of Newton’s quote. Our sins are justly punished by eternal damnation, yet there is hope in our Lord. 

What Paul speaks of in his Epistle is the great reward we receive for holding steady to the course God has set for us. For eternal salvation is the delivery promised to each of us by Jesus.  This is the great reward for the race we run daily here on Earth. Make no mistake, like a marathon, this run requires frequent training in the Scriptures and acting upon the concepts in Scriptures. And like marathon runners, we receive a wonderful prize.  However, it is for a more valuable prize than any monetary or asset gift that one could receive here on Earth The prize is for the promise of an eternal, unending life, to be spent with our Lord and Savior Jesus. It is for the promise of a world unaffected by the tarnish of sin, unblackened by the sinful deeds of imperfect beings. It is an unshadowed world.  It shall be true happiness at last, to meet with our beloved family, our Christian heavenly family, friends and beloved pets. 

Eternal salvation is a far more valuable prize than anything we could possibly acquire here on Earth.  It is in fact a priceless treasure, truly priceless, except for the death of our Saviour and resurrection. That is the only price involved with our eternal freedom.  As the saying goes, there is no free lunch. Eternal life does not come to us without cost. The cost was Jesus’ one time sacrifice for all time for all mankind. We have to keep this foremost in our thoughts as we continue to run the race set before us!  We need to bear in mind the reward for our race run is not one we have earned, but is a gift freely given by God’s grace, by His Love for us, He sent His Son to purchase eternal life for us by his death and resurrection.  Keep the eyes on the prize, as it were!  As my grandfather was fond of saying, “Keep your eye on the doughnut, not the hole.”  That means keeping the important things in sight at all times, excluding the unimportant.

Particularly when things get hard, we must keep our end goal fixed firmly in our mind’s eye in order to stay on the path. In order to stay focused on the path, we must always remember the end, the arrival in Heaven will outweigh all of the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears we shed in this life. Paul assures us our efforts will give us a reward greater than even our pitiful minds can imagine, if we but stay the course.

Our eyes should be focused on the finish line, not our “competition.”  The only thing which counts is that we each cross the finish line.  Does the competition matter in the scheme of things? After all, each person needs only be concerned with doing God’s will and his eternal destination, not others destinations. For only you have an input in which area you will go. Not a final input, but an input none the less. 

So how do we run the race?  

With our eyes focused tightly on the finish line, not on those around us, wondering are they doing better than we are?  That is not a useful question. 

The useful question is, “Am I doing the best I can?” And, remember this is a Team Effort. We have to want to win, and in order to win the race set before us; we have to perform actions. We need to act upon the Word of Scripture, the message, which is to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ and preach it to all nations, as in the Great Commission. But we must first start with our neighbors and work our way outward. It must be a team effort, we cannot all do it alone.  It is not as the Army motto says “An Army of One”, but the Church is an “Army of Many.” Each person in God’s army has a specific talent and task assigned to them to complete their assigned mission here on Earth. We need support along the way, especially when things get tough, we need our Christian buddies to give us moral support and encouragement from the Word.   We want the Christian Team to win.  If an outsider joins, they join the team fully from then on.  We need to give each team member all the help we can.  A deathbed[1] conversion gains the same prize in the end as a life long Christian.  The life long Christian will have had the more rewarding life here on earth, but eternity is a long time after that. So, with that in mind, we must DO our best and not just say it, and we do that by acting upon the Word, not just reading it, but acting.

We are all so far from perfect that Holier than Thou is pretty damning praise.  Don’t even go there.  The best you can really do is not to be as evil as another, even that is pretty doubtful. But, we can do our best for our Lord and that is what really matters.

The Gospel for today, the very important parable of the vineyard, also gives us very good advice on the conduct of our daily lives and contains a crucial key to happiness.  There is the lesson that the deathbed conversion gains the same prize of eternal life as the lifelong follower, but there is a lot more in it for every day life. That a person that comes to Christ late in life, receives the same eternal benefits as a person who followed Christ from the age of reason.

It is a fine lesson in “buyer’s remorse” or coveting of jobs or similar concepts.  If you got a good deal, it does not change because someone else got a “better” deal.  Take what you got, go forth and be happy.  Don’t complain because somebody else got the same deal as you did sooner. Other meanings abound.  For a very direct application, what this means is “cradle” Christians are no more likely to go to heaven than this morning’s convert.  They just get to enjoy the Christian experience longer.  So, let us not begrudge those who are newly converted, but let us rejoice that they have been saved! As Christ said, we should rejoice that one sinner has repented of his ways!  One note, if you wait until the last minute to join the gang, your time here might end before you get around to it.   So, don’t wait until tomorrow to act, do it today while you still have time!

Sometimes people act like being a Christian is an unpleasant experience that they will do when they get a round TUIT.  It is not.  Christians aren’t perfect, they just have more fun being imperfect and imperfectly trying to improve!

Christ gave us eternal life.  But, we have to accept it.  Once you accept it, start living as if you will live forever.  You will and you will have to live with your actions for ever!  So, Act early and Act often! 

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] Of course, you must consider that overshooting a deathbed conversion will result in no conversion, thus no eternal life.  Convert earlier than needed rather than later than needed.  My dad talks of a bombing range in England, Cowden, on the edge of a cliff.  If you dropped short, you got a score.  If you dropped long, you missed the whole country.  Same idea here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany



If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

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


Consider these words from the Collect:

… keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power …

In the Collect, we are asking God to keep His People (that is US) in line with His Wishes, not our own, so that we might be defended by Him.  We of course need the Holy Ghost to help keep us in line with His Wishes, to enable us to be defended by Him. We need to be acting in accordance with His Will before He can defend us. We cannot expect Him to defend us from the slings and arrows of this world if we will not line up behind Him.  This is a pretty simple concept, but one that escapes so many.   We find God being blamed by people who do what they want, not what He wants them to do.

Our problems are not caused by God or by following Him, they are caused by us and not following His will and guidance. We find that if we follow God and do what He asks, our problems will be more easily solvable than if we do not. However, on the flip side, if we do not follow God and His Word, then we find that our problems are never solved and it makes our life here on Earth much harder than if we turn to Him.

The truth of the matter is that it is not God we should blame; the blame rather lies with us. We are the cause of all our problems due to our inherent nature of pride, vanity, and other aspects of our sinful fallen nature. We need His help to cure us of this dreadful sickness known as Sin. It is not a surprise a lot of Jesus's miracles were healing of various long suffering people with sickness. In a way, they are of themselves allegorical, He heals us of our sins, as He healed them of their physical sickness.

Sin is of course a sickness, a spiritual one, and it is like cancer in that there is really no cure for it without God’s intervention. God’s intervention is of course the Holy Ghost, who will not come in unless invited. So, in order to be healed of our sins, we need to recognize we have the sickness and refer to the appropriate physicians, the Holy Ghost and God, for treatment.

The treatment He prescribes is to accept the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the reading and digesting of Holy Scripture. This multi-step process will be one constantly repeating through ought our entire lifetime until we are called Home to be with Him. While we will never be able to fully stop sinning while we are here on Earth, He expects us to limit the sinning to the best of our abilities.

When we do fall out of step from time to time with the great physician’s instructions, we are called to return to Him, repent and do our very very best to go forth and sin no more. This means we have to renew our efforts continually to not walk in sin and darkness and to follow the narrow, uphill lighted path towards Heaven.

Paul reminds us that God wants us to treat others as we would be treated; having “a heart of compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another…”  Jesus forgave us, stood in our place, accounted us (who are guilty of capital crimes) as perfect.  We are no more worthy than the next human being to get into heaven on our merits alone. Our merits do not outweigh our multitude grave offences we have committed by the virtue simple fact we are sinners. Yet, we want to hold a grudge against someone for leaving us alone a few minutes too long.  How is that right?

In addition to being forgiving, we are to be sharing of His Word and joyful while doing it!  Let us think about Psalm 100, the Jubilate Deo:

O
 BE joyful in the Lord, all ye lands: * serve the Lord  with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.
 vBe ye sure that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; * we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
   O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; * be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.
   For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting; * and his truth endureth from generation to generation.

Does this psalm not give a lot of insight into how we are to live our lives?

So, what if we choose not to live our lives God’s Way, but rather our way?  Did you ever notice weeds normally flourish far above the crop plants?  While they oft succeed in growing taller and quicker, they are not useful. They bear no benefit to a farmer’s harvest and they contribute absolutely nothing to the nature around them.  A wise farmer will let them abide in the field and separate them out at the harvest. God is that wise farmer, who will sift us out before His judgment seat. So, while we still have time, let us repent and turn back to Him and give thanks for His mercy! Jesus reminds us our lives here on earth can be that way.  Those who follow the Prince of this World oft soar in earthly riches far above us; when their time here is done, their destination is not the same as ours. In the end, we shall be soaring high above them in Heaven, while they will be in the Pit.

Follow God’s will and you will do well enough in earthly riches, which are transient in nature, but we will have for “…ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (St. Matt. vi. 19, 20)

It is our actions here that count, what we do in response to the eternal life Jesus has given us.  Will we throw it away or use it wisely?

Error is error, wrong is not right.  But, a person’s final destination is up to God, not us. We might think certain individuals may be beyond redemption, but their eternal fate is beyond our speculation and is ultimately up to God. During the journey of life down that time space continuum we need to do our best to keep us moving towards God and not away from Him. We also need to keep others around us moving towards Him as well, by the example that we set here. We need to be sure we are setting a good example and not a bad one. The direction is always clear, sometimes we just do not want to read the signs. So, let us trust and turn to God, He is our infallible navigator, if we will but listen to Him and act upon his instructions we shall navigate through every storm and trial in our lives with the least pain.

If we understand we are less than perfect, actually far less than imperfect, we have a good start.  We know we need God in our lives to give us direction.  We need His guidance to direct our ACTION.

Read the Bible, find out what He wants you to do, then Do It.  What can you do today to carry out His Will?  There are a multitude of things you can DO to carry out His Will, but the question is, “Will you?”

There is but one way to heaven.

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God Live of God Act of God

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

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

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations …

In the Collect, we acknowledge that God knows the dangers, toils and snares with which we must contend, which so often keep us from the upright acknowledgement and defense of that which is true and correct.   With these infirmities, our only hope is that certain hope of his help to support us, not to get out of the problems, but to make our way through them to His Glory.

Paul points out in his epistle that as we are all here on Earth, earthly rulers are subject to God and His Rules and they ultimately need to defer to Him for their authority not themselves. Their authority derives from God not from man. Man has always sought to supplant God as the ultimate authority on earth. This is the whole basis behind both communism and National Socialism.  There are slight differences between both mainly the means of production, but the end result is very similar in both.  They both seek to supplant God and His Authority here on earth, and make the state a non God based church on earth, where instead of worshiping God, they worship man, or basically worshipping Satan instead.

He says that if we are doing good then we need not be afraid of the power from God that is on loan to the rulers who are ministers of God in away. The only people that need be afraid of them are evildoers, who the ruler is appointed to use the sword to bring before God for justice. We are not in the business of condemning people’s souls to one eternal destination or the other that is God’s job. But Paul points out that we can arrange for the meeting to happen, when people violate God’s most sovereign laws.

He then goes on to say that through the authority invested by them in God, people need to pay the rulers tribute, to which it is due, the customs to custom, fear to fear, honor to honor. It goes very much hand in hand with what Jesus said on the subject “Render unto Caesar’s which is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” There is respect that ought to be paid to the rightful people that are the representatives of God ruling the people. That respect ends however, when those representatives reject God’s authority and are no longer worthy of the respect.

This also goes back to the honor thy father and they mother concept. As long as they are doing their best to raise you up in a Christian way and showing by example to follow Christ to get to heaven, then they are worthy of that honor. But if they are doing the opposite, then they are not worthy of the honor.  It is still worth behaving in a Christian manner to both unfaithful rulers and parents however, but realize that they become unworthy of that honor when they reject God and His Authority.

Christianity is not a solitary religion, one all about the individual, though it certainly depends on individuals as part of the Team lead by Christ to carry it out.  God has given each of us varying talents and varying capabilities.  We must each of us do that for the Church that which we do better than others and respect those who we work with.  No power comes from God, leaders who lead with His Will in mind must be accorded the respect they are due by virtue of their position.  They must also lead with His Will in mind, for a leader following the Prince of Darkness is not worthy of respect or followership.  We must put faith in those to who faith is due.

Faith, and acting on it, is what Christianity is all about.  Christ’s faith accounts us as perfect before God because of His Actions.  The centurion of this week’s Gospel is a symbol of faith and what appears to be inaction is his action.  He is also the person for whom our parish draws its name.  The centurion was the basic leader symbol of the Roman Empire.  A group of eight to ten soldiers was lead by a Contubern.  Ten Contubernium formed a Centuria, which was lead by a Centurion.  Six to ten of these formed a Cohort, also led by a Centurion.  He was an important man, able to reward or punish at will.  He knew power and how to wield it.

When the centurion came to Jesus, he knew who He was and His Power.  When the centurion to Jesus of his servant’s illness, the centurion knew all Jesus had to do was will the wellness and it was done.

There was no question in his mind, the centurion knew Jesus. His action was the seeming inaction of acknowledging his unworthiness and telling Jesus, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.”

We are all unworthy.  The best of us is not worthy that He should come under our roof; yet we know if He will speak The Word only, our souls shall be healed and all will be accounted well before God.  That is all He asks, “Let Me speak The Word only.”

There is but one way to heaven.

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.


Be of God - Live of God - Act of God