Verse of the Day

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Second Sunday in Advent


Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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. 

The Second Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

B
LESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

The Collect and the Epistle and the Gospel all tell us we are to learn from Scripture and to place our hope and trust in God, not man. They tell us God provided Scripture so that we might learn from the history of old believers in the Old and New testament. As the saying goes, if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. It is the same with Scripture; for much of Scripture is history.

Scriptures have been given to us as a tool for learning so we might become wiser through the Holy Spirit, whose guidance as we read and study Scripture will allow us to come to a fuller understanding of the meaning it should have in our daily lives. The key concept is learning, learning by growing closer to the concepts found in Scripture and finding out how to learn from the mistakes we have made.  Scriptures are here for our personal and spiritual development. We need the Scriptures to grow and learn as men and women of God. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is necessary for us implement the concepts found in Scripture in our day to day lives.

If we try to live our lives, or for that matter write our sermons, without the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we will be for naught. We have to understand what we are preaching; to live what we are preaching, in order for our faith to have any meaning.  Then we also have to live what we preach, other wise we become hypocrites. There are too many preachers out there who preach a nice message; but ultimately they do not live the message they preach. 

If we do not have understanding or act upon our preaching, how can we ask others to follow God, when we ourselves are not?  We must strive to avoid hypocrisy, to live a geniune life following His commandments He has set for us and to be a beacon to guide others to Him. We are not an icon or image of Him, but merely pathfinders, and once we find the path, we guide others to Him. We do not posess any special powers as ministers of the Lord, except as we have the Holy Ghost within us, directing us. And that special power is not of our own to claim, but He who sent Him. We are merely being allowed to have Him within us and we should not boast of any deeds done with His Inspiration, but must simply point back to the source who sent Him. We cannot claim any credit on our own for the power He has bestowed upon us to perform great good works for Him.  He works not only in ministers, but in each and every member of the church.  For, each of us is an emissary of Christ to the world. 

He gives each of us in His Church special talents, so members of the Church may use these talents in conjunction with one another to bring people to Christ. As in a professional workplace, each member of the Church has a special talent, used in conjunction with other people with each of their own talents, can be used together to bring people to Christ. If we all work together, with the help of the Holy Ghost, there is not much beyond our capability. We cannot do this mission alone, we need to depend on each other and work together to strenghen the Church and carry out the Great Comission. We become an unstoppable spiritual force, with the Holy Ghost within each and every one of us, working for the glory of the Father here on Earth. For the Church is a team, each and everyone in it, the clergy and the lay people all having the common goals of spreading the Gospel to those who are in need of it and tending to those who need help. This is all done by reading and applying the precepts of Scripture with the help of the Holy Ghost.

We must act upon the words of Scripture and the sermons we hear, so our faith will be manifest to all of those watching us.  We will make mistakes and sin, as we are imperfect beings; if we admit our wrongdoings to God, and come back to Him, all shall be forgiven and we shall have another fresh slate, on which to start anew. 

In the Epistle, Paul tells us Scripture was written so we might have hope, even in times of darkness.  Times like these with unbelievers in high places doing their best to defile and ridicule our faith can try our souls.  We must treat others as Christ taught us, with respect and humility, no matter our personal feelings/opinion on them and how they conduct their lives. If we are kind to them, we may plant a seed in their lives for the better, causing perhaps a change for the better in them. We do not know what impact our actions may have in the future; we can only hope they may influence an individual for the better. It may not be until way later that we find out what measurable impact we may have had on these peoples lives. It takes a while for seeds to germinate and grow into  large and wondrous trees, it is the same with the seeds we plant spiritually. We have no idea what our actions will inspire others to do. That is also why we need to be extremely careful in how our actions influence others. We want to be a positive influence, rather than a negative one. 

This is where applying the love thy neighbor as thyself concept plays a big part. For if we follow Christ’s Summary of the Law, then our actions are more likely to cause a positive impact on others around us, rather than if we follow ourselves instead of the Holy Ghost, whereas we are more likely to cause a negative impact to others around us.

Turning to the Gospel, Saint Luke describes the signs of the Second Coming and how we are to prepare for it.  We are not to be caught unaware of the signs; if we read the signs, then we shall be prepared to meet our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  At the same time remember Christ’s words in Matthew 24:36 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  This means every day we have to be active in our faith, and not brain and faith dead like so many around us today. We have to be spritually aware of our spiritual surroundings, much as a good and safe driver/motorcyclist must be aware of the cars around him and possible hazards in the road at all times.

We have to use the tools given to us by God; Scripture, our faith and our friends in the faith to combat the evils of this world.  They are given to us for learning the faith and for defending the faith from the multiple assaults of the wicked one. We must do our best to make this world the best place we can.  If we study, digest and use Scripture in faith, we will have hope in these times of darkness; we will go forth and spread Good News, which will give us satisfaction and hope for people; therefore renewing our spirit and vigor and the knowledge that in the end we will triumph, will fill our hungry spirits. It will renew our sense of purpose and redirect our focus outward instead of inward.

Our hungry spirits can only be satisified by God’s Goodness and His Word and His Love, of which He has infinite capacity; nobody is stealing anybody else’s share, as God has more than plenty to go around for all of us!  In fact, the more of God’s Love you take, the more there is for others!  So we must concentrate then on sharing the Gospel and God’s love, so others might finally find true happiness, as we find ours, in serving the Lord for the rest of our days. We also have to concentrate on living a genuine Christian life and not a shallow Christian life; showing the way to Christ for others to see and follow.

The common theme through the Collect, Epistle and Gospel is that if we have hope and trust in God, we must dread naught, and carry on, empowered through them in our daily lives here on Earth until we are called to our heavenly home.   These are actions we must take; not mere thoughts or words, actual actions!

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, December 1, 2019

First Sunday in Advent


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together because, as is always the case, there is a unifying message in the Scripture for this Sunday. 

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

Today’s Collect, like almost all of them, starts out asking God’s Grace, His Help, His intervention to allow us to turn our backs on evil and our own desires that we might make His Desire our desire. This theme is constant through ought most of the collects for the simple reason that it is truth.  And it is the truth that without God’s intervention in our lives through the help of the Holy Ghost we are doomed to fail. If you will understand how short we fall in our “natural” desire, you will understand to cast off the works of darkness and don the armour of light, we must turn to Christ, who came to visit us, born in a simple and humble inn in Bethlehem.  As His manner of birth, we must be humble as well, not boastful and proud like the rich[1], but meek and lowly, to embrace light and cast off the works of darkness.  We have to let go of our pride in order to be humble and be able to cast off the works of darkness. Though He came in a rather humble manner, He shall return in a glorious and majestic manner, a rather stark contrast to His original incarnation, leaving no doubt who has come to lead us.   Consider also that when Jesus came into this world, He knew precisely and exactly how He would leave and the pain and suffering it would entail.  There was no way to justify in His mind that while there would be 99 percent casualties, it would not be Him.  He knew exactly what would happen, yet He came anyway.  He came for us.  He came that we might not have just eternal existence, but eternal life and freedom.

The whole point of the Collect, Epistle and Gospel is that we must embrace light and reject the darkness. We do this by allowing the Holy Ghost into our hearts, to shine the light in our hearts and expel the darkness. It is a true and bright light which will cleanse our hearts of the inner darkness and will send the darkness scattering like insects. Only then can we truly don the armor of light. We need to train our brains and minds and souls in this way, so that we can act for Christ. This constant battle will occur for the rest of our lives until we are called home to join our friends and family who have gone before and Christ and His Father. We have been called to do these things, as sons and daughters of God, but only with a conscious effort on our part to accept Him and more importantly to listen to Him, can we do these things. To do these things we have to live it. Not just say we are living it, but physically perform the actions needed to live it. 

This brings us straight to the Epistle. Paul tells us we need to live the life we aspire to.  He wastes little time on the don’ts which the Jews were famous for getting around, but goes right to the dos; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. By going through the dos, Paul is saying we need to let in the light and allow the Holy Spirit to expel the darkness. We cannot hope to accomplish any of the dos if we do not have the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Following God requires that we reject the dark and cling to the light. The light of the Holy Spirit will burn away the darkness in our souls, if we will but let Him. 

Paul cautions us to not borrow for what we do not need that we might owe others nothing but our love.  To know the difference between want and need.  This is sound advice sorely needed in this country these days. If we do, we are ensuring that we will not have a worldly obligation to any who might hold that over us to influence our path away from that Christ set out for us. We ideally owe no man anything but that of our love.  Paul asks us to love our neighbors, by love he means to take care for them as we would for ourselves or our own close relations.  Not necessarily to “give” them money, but to help them to attain self-sufficiency that they might prosper both in soul and body.  

This takes us right into the Gospel according to Saint Matthew.  We must not be for God in speech only, but in deed.  When Jesus came into this world, He came knowing the true purpose of His coming, He came knowing how He would leave, He came knowing the cost at which our souls would be accounted at perfect. He knew what He had to do to save our souls for eternity.  His whole ministry, including his death and resurrection, can be best summed up in one word; action. He consistently backed up His Message with actions and not just words. This is a pattern for us to follow as believers; we are called not just to say good words, but back those good words up with actions.  The story of Palm Sunday is the same as that of the Nativity.   For on Palm Sunday, there was joy in the crowd at the arrival of the Savior, much as there was in the stable at the arrival of the Child Jesus.  Yet, many in the very same crowd who cried “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday were there early on Good Friday.  For what did they cry then?

“Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

Pilate asked for them to cry for mercy, they cried for vengeance on their Lord and Savior!

A swift 180° turn from “Hosanna to the Son of David.”  How quick are men to turn upon a good thing. As Charles Spurgeon said "It is an astounding thing and a proof of human depravity that men do not themselves seek salvation. They even deny the necessity of it and would sooner run away than be partakers of it."  This is due to our natural inclination to choose the fruit of death rather than the bread of life, which comes from the Baker of Life, Jesus Christ. 

The Bread of Life is Christ’s sacrifice for us, and every time we partake of it in Holy Communion and listening to the Gospel and the Epistle, we must always remember the cost of our freedom from death. This Bread did not come to us without a cost namely His Death and resurrection.  It also comes with conditions, namely that we profess Christ as Our Saviour and to put Him first in our lives, love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We have heard this before in the Summary of the Law. This is what the Law of God condenses down to, and this is what all laws we set forth must be based upon, for there is no other rational or foundational base so great and solid as Christ. He must be the Chief Cornerstone in our lives, if our lives are to have any meaning. There are those who He is not chief in, and they are those who may vainly profess His name with their lips, but not in their actions. This is a great sorrow for them. They have not kept the Word of God in their hearts, though they may shallowly profess it with their lips. It is action, not diction, that counts!

We must not be like them.  We must put on the great Armour of Light and so reject our former lives of sin and vanity. We must switch from our old selfish lives to a new unselfish, Christ filled life.  It is something we always struggle with, but God never gives up on us. We can be comforted by the assurance He will never give up on us. We just have to never give up on Him and do our very best to follow what He says. As long as we repent from our sin and turn back to God in our private prayers and devotion, he will wipe our slate clean. I know I have a hard time keeping on the straight and narrow path, so I am glad He left the Scriptures to guide us.

Through following His Word and Instructions, we shall be given a greater reward than anything existent on the Earth; past, present or future, that gift of immortal life, life for all eternity, that will outlast this physical world. To don the armour of light is not merely putting it on, you must utilize the helmet, the buckler and sword (Scriptures and Christ’s teachings).  You need the whole complement of weaponry to go into combat with the Prince of Darkness in this fallen world. And you not only need the complement of weaponry, but we need to train with these weapons. The best way is to be reading Scriptures regularly and discussing the meaning of it with your fellow believers. This way you can ingrain the Scriptures in your heart and be ready to do battle with those who follow the Prince of this World.

Make no mistake, we are engaged in a World War with the Prince of Air, the Prince of This World, for the souls of men, starting with our own, a World War which has been going on since the beginning of time. But we know the ending is in our favor for certain, for the Book of Revelation tells us so.

As individuals we may not experience victory here on earth. We may struggle with problems in this world and our own, our whole lifespan on this planet. We may not see and savor that victory here on earth; but we know in the end He will be victorious as we know the Savior.  We will win, for we are on His Side.

Cast off the dull worn robes of darkness, which lack luster, give no warmth, protect not from the heat, and put on the shining glorious armour of light.  So kitted up, we walk in light, not in darkness where we may stumble and fall.   Unlike moths, for us light is life, not the destruction of darkness.

Come, put on the Armor of Light and go forth to destroy that last enemy, death!

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] It is not that worldly wealth is, in and of itself, bad, but rather the attitude it can bring, one of self-worth beyond that which is correct.  Wealth often brings to us a “better than thou” attitude, which soon turns to “Holier than thou.”  The kind of thing that was referred to when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  Mark 10.25

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sunday next before Advent


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together because as is always the case there is a unifying message in the Scripture for this Sunday. 

The Sunday next before Advent
The Collect.
S
TIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

As is oft the case, today’s propers are all tied together.  As is usual, they call for action not just thoughts.  In fact, the collect is among the most direct, asking God to stir our hearts that we might ACT in a manner which will result in good things! The collect is asking for God to inspire us to ACT to produce those good works that will please Him. It is asking for God to assist us in our actions here on Earth to produce good fruits. 

Jeremiah prophesies the coming of Jesus out of the branch of David that He might unite God’s people as one under a New Covenant.  Christ is the key piece to the puzzle of the Old Testament prophecies. He is the answer to all of the prophecies the Old Testament contains about our savior. He is the Messiah who is prophesied by the prophets in the Old Testament.  John tells us Jesus comes to fill both our spiritual and physical hunger. Our spiritual hunger in that by His Coming, we will have the Word as our spiritual bread and drink. And our physical hunger by the fact if we follow what He says and do our best, we should have no problems getting food to eat. The collect is asking God to stir up our will. The collect also notes that when our will is stirred up by God, we will be driven to perform good works for Him. This collect is a call to action, to perform good works to advance the cause of the Gospel. In a way it is similar to Jesus’s Great Commission in that it is asking us to allow God into our hearts and go forth and do good works that the Good News might be spread. When God enters into our hearts, he will give us spiritual food and drink that will be more filling to our souls than the lembas bread from Lord of the Rings, it will sustain us on our spiritual journeys here on earth and guide us on that narrow and upward path towards heaven. We just have to let Him into our hearts and provide us with that nourishment.

Once He is in our hearts, we are to let Him stir up His Will in our hearts, to incline us to perform good works for Him and to go out and actually perform those good works. Then through these actions we will truly get our just reward. Our wills are naturally inclined towards not following Him; we need to have our wills reset towards following Him. 

We have to throw off our old man, to quote Saint Paul and to put on the new armor and helmet of the new man. We have to let the Holy Ghost into us and cleanse us of our old sinful selves.  For without the Holy Ghost’s influence, we cannot truly be able to willing follow Him and act for Him on our own intuition. For our natural intuition is corrupt, by the disease of sin eating away at our very souls. Only the great doctor, God himself, can cure us of this otherwise incurable disease.

Nothing else in this world will satisfy us like God and the Word of God can. He is the answer to the missing hole in so many people’s hearts and lives.  There is so much evidence of this missing hole in people’s lives today. Our broken society is a reflection of the gigantic God shaped hole that is missing. Yet nobody wishes to acknowledge or recognize this hole. The church sadly has been complicit in this by allowing the devil to enter into the church. No house divided against itself shall stand and sadly that is what is happening with the modern church.  We have found that no art or work of mammon can come even close to the pure satisfaction following God provides. Yet because so many people have been blinded by Satan they won’t see this. This is the only possible way we can truly be satisfied, everything else is a shadow of true happiness and satisfaction. God is the only way in which we can truly be happy, for everything else is worthless to our wellbeing, except for the joy of following Him.

If we follow our own heart and guidance, we will seek the things of this world.  As explained before, the things of this world cannot compare in satisfaction value to God and the Word of God.  If we set our hearts on acquiring things of this world, we will be seeking material superiority. Which leads to things like stealing, coveting, all negative attributes that go against God’s laws.  These are all things that if you look at the Ten Commandments, violate them.  And nothing can be gained by the things of this world that will grant eternal pleasures like setting our hearts on heaven and God.

Look back on history and see how much evil action can be laid to not only coveting but some of these other evil desires by not only persons, but nations. We can look at the examples of the early wars in Europe, and of late, of the wars started by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan for examples. 

These examples show we are not truly capable of satisfying ourselves, but only Jesus and the Holy Spirit can fill the hole. This is why we truly need the Holy Ghost acting in our hearts and cleansing us of these impure thoughts. We desperately need the influence the Trinity provides in our life. Our life will be so much more rewarding and happier, if we have them involved in our lives, versus those who do not have them in their life.

As we are nearing the beginning of Advent, let us think ahead to the joy of Christmas, the birth of Christ, His entry into this world, the joy of Epiphany, His revealing to the world.  Then look ahead at the horror, pain and sadness of Good Friday.  This lets us see the joy of eternal life He gave us, came at a very heavy price. Jesus gave His Own Life so we might have eternal happiness and not only that but he had to go down into hell and do battle with the devil. It has been said there is no free lunch.  That is true, it is better said that everything has a price.  There are some things are worth paying for, some are not.  Not one thing is worth coveting or stealing in the Ten Commandments sense.  Be sure and pay for everything, do not steal or partake in acquisition of stolen goods. We need to always be cognizant of this and be thankful He came, lived and died for us, that we might have eternal life.

The inordinate desire, coveting, for more money can lead to theft; the desire for more prestige, to evil ambition; the desire for more power, to tyranny; the desire for a person's body, to fornication and adultery. This inordinate desire for more money is a gateway drug of sorts, leading us into more sins. Paul identifies covetousness as idolatry because it puts things in the place of God.  When we put things over God’s Will, we no longer worship Him, but avoid Him. 

When people serve idols, they place things above God.  When you covet, you are willing to set aside God for things.  In the end, that never works.  And, near the end it gets pretty unpleasant.  We find idols easier to deal with than God.  You can make an idol; God made you.  If you don’t like the idol’s rules, you change the rules. We can’t change God’s rules so we seek to change Him to an idol so we can change the rules.  God stands fast and is unchanging, unlike the World which is constantly changing things to suit its sinful desires.  There are some pretty big differences there. We will never be fully satisfied with things of this world, but we will be satisfied with what God provides for us.


He asks of us nothing special; but just to do our very best and not just say it. It is something that I am striving to work on more and more every day. We must keep learning and following His Word. It is a hard concept for many of us to follow, including myself, but we must all strive more and more every day to do our very best. If we study Scriptures diligently and work hard to follow them to the best of our abilities, then we will, with the Holy Spirit’s help, be charted on an excellent course. 

Interestingly, He tells the disciples to “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”  It seems He is talking about the sheep that He tends to, He wishes to “gather up the fragments that remain”, meaning the people apart from His flock, that “nothing be lost”, meaning that their souls may not be lost for eternity. Think about that and take what it is offered before it is no longer on the menu! And be thankful for All His Blessings in our lives, for our friends and our family that He has placed in our lives.   

We are blessed and should be grateful we are in a spiritually rich group (The Anglican Orthodox Church) and in communion with some very good men and women across the Earth in the AOC Worldwide Church, who hold true to the principles of Scripture. God has blessed us all by bringing us together. I am thankful for each and every person in the AOC Church and my family and friends.  At Thanksgiving, we should be thankful most of all for God sending His Son to die for us, that we might have eternal life and happiness instead of the eternal misery that comes from the separation from God.

Actions speak louder than words, when we actually use that inspiration of the Holy Ghost and a couple well thought out words with actions, we can do many marvelous things in the lives of people around us, through His Spirit and Word and we will help to fill people’s spiritual hunger, through acting through His Word, in thought, word and deed.

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity


Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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 and are all tied together.  Todays propers really put to lie the concept of the hermit Christian.  When we talk about them, look how the Collect talks about the Household of God, what Bishop Cranmer styles as the Church, and how Paul speaks of the benefits of fellowship and joint prayer.  If that were not enough, see how Jesus reminds us of the need for forgiveness and patience, things you only need if you interface with others.


Consider these words from the Collect:

… keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name …

In the Collect we ask the Lord to keep His household, (that would be the Church or us) in continual godliness (that is to keep Him as our leader and follow Him and the principles of Scripture), so that with His Help we can have as smooth a path as practical and serve Him in happiness. It also says that through His protection we might be free from all adversities and to do good works for Him. By being free of adversities, it means that in times of adversity that God might give us the guidance needed to soar through these adversities and do good for Him.

This is only possible if we listen to the Scriptures and apply them with the help of the Holy Ghost.  Without the help of the Holy Ghost we cannot have His Protection and will not be able to keep on the straight and narrow uphill path towards heaven.

Saint Paul follows this same thought in his Epistle when he thanks the Philippians for their fellowship and talks about how they in the bond through Christ have strengthened his faith as a result which enabled him to continue doing good works for the Lord. It ties in nicely with the collect asking for God to keep the Church in continual godliness. This is how our Lord accomplishes this. By having our bonds strong in the church, He keeps us in that continual godliness. The more we love the Lord, the more it will show through in our actions and our judgment.  So, let us keep loving the Lord, so our actions and judgment will align His!

Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ tells Peter about forgiveness and how we must be ever patient with our fellow humans, and if they are repentant grant them that forgiveness, no matter how many times they might err and vex us.  It doesn’t matter if we want to or not, if they are repentant then we must forgive them, regardless of how we want to do otherwise. If they are truly sorry for their sins, then God will forgive them, so must we forgive.  For if we hold the evil of non-forgiveness in our hearts, it is to our own detriment. Forgiveness not only helps the person being forgiven, it helps the forgive, for if we do not forgive, then the grudge will wear us down over time and it will only hurt our souls.

Holding non-forgiveness in our hearts is as bad for us as holding a grudge against an individual. It acts like a very slow acting poison. In the long term it can turn our soul from a bright light to a dark as black soul if left unchecked. This is why Jesus consuls us to never let the sun go down on our anger. If we hold non-forgiveness against an individual that is clearly penitent, then we are not acting like a Christian, but like our old unsaved selves. So, we need to let go of our anger and be able to forgive somebody regardless if we like them or not.  We should do unto others as we would like them to do to us, if the roles were reversed. 

We can only forgive those sins against us, for those that are against God, only God can forgive. We cannot forgive those, it is only in God’s jurisdiction that He can forgive them. When one sins against a fellow creature, they sin against God also.  When we say we forgive them, we are not forgiving them ourselves only, but informing them God has forgiven them for their sins.   Remember, we can forgive them for personal trespasses against us, but through God’s power, only He can grant absolution of our sins, not us.  I do not see anywhere in Scripture where Christ tells Peter humans have the power to forgive sins, as the Roman Catholics claim they have, but rather God must forgive sins, but we can tell others God has forgiven them. In the concept of priests not having special powers, this is one of those powers we do not have. We can only pronounce God’s forgiveness. We don’t have God’s power of forgiving, is God doing the actual acting of forgiveness, but it falls upon us to tell people about it.

The parable illustrates what happens to those who are forgiven, but yet turn around and do not forgive their neighbor (in this case, a debtee) for their sins and have thus abused their forgiveness from Our Lord. If we follow this person’s path, we will find ourselves in a poor spot in eternal life. Let us not be like that fellow, but let us forgive our neighbor, if he is truly sorry and willing to repent and re-start the friendship, and turning a new leaf so to speak. 

If God has been so good to forgive us, why should we not inform others God can and will forgive them of any sins against Him or us for that matter? It would be truly selfish not to do so and to go against what He has commanded us to do, in spreading the Word to all nations. This is why the Gospel is called the Good News, because God has forgiven us for our sins and sent His Son to die for us, that we might have eternal life instead of eternal damnation. This is the ultimate forgiveness, accounting us as perfect, when we are anything but.  

Today’s propers speak of the power of Our Lord in forgiveness and how we must remember our bond with our fellow Christians in Christ, especially in times of great sorrow or trouble and use that to strengthen us in our day to day lives. We must always remember there are others in our heavenly family who are struggling along with us. With the help of the Holy Ghost and our bond with Christ, we shall not fail.

The Collect’s prayer, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately.  We have to be willing to forgive others, tell them about God’s forgiveness, and not turn around and commit the grave error of not forgiving others as God has forgiven us for our sins. We have to act more like God each day, though we are not and never will be perfect. If we try our utmost best, that is all we can do.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Twenty First Sunday after Trinity


Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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 these words from the Collect:


… Grant … thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind …

We ask God to pardon our sins so we might serve Him with peace of mind and do His Work without having to worry about our fate.  It is good to have a clear mind when you go into battle, to be free of worry that you might do your best. You do not want to have a foggy mind when you are doing an action that requires your best concentration, so that is what we are asking from Him. To give us clarity of mind that we might do what is right.  

We need His pardon and peace to cleanse us from our sins, to enable us to have a mind that is quiet and focused on doing His will. It is a difficult thing to quiet our minds at times, but it must be done, so that we can focus on doing our best from Him. His pardon and peace will help us clear our minds from worrying thoughts and distressed thoughts, if we will but let Him in. The pardon and peace He gives is a perfect pardon and peace, He only asks that we go forth in the world and spread His Word, which will give the perfect pardon and peace to all that accept it.

When we mention peace, it is a very different concept from what people in this world think of it..The peace that God gives us is the calmness and stability in our soul when the world is crumbling around or even on us. When things are going wrong at work, school or home, peace is the feeling that God is with us and that we have nothing to fear from whatever it is that is troubling us.  Also His Peeace is the sureness that we service Him who created all things and sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us, that we might have eternal life. It is also knowing that through His Son we have that eternal life and that we do not have to fear death unlike those who do not believe.

 It is that peace of mind and soul that comes from knowing that when we die, we will be with God and Jesus and enjoying eternity with them. It helps us to know that this is only a transitory phase. This is only temporary way point on our way to heaven.  And if we let it this peace will take the place of worry.  This is something that people that tend to worry, such as myself need to remember. You can then concentrate on what you can do and not be concerned with what you cannot do; for if you cannot really do it, it is pointless to concern yourself.  That is the whole point of peace, having it will give you calmness and rational thinking to do what you need to do for Him. The peace gives you the confidence to perform actions, even in difficult and very trying circumstances. Once again, action, not diction, is paramount.

Not everyone will accept it though, even though all should accept the offered gift, it does not mean they will. We have to realize this, and some may not accept it at first, but it does not mean that we should give up on them, but rather let the Holy Spirit plant the seed, as He plants a seed in our hearts. As our fallen nature attests, we are not instantly transformed into a different person overnight, but rather thorough many days, weeks and years of practicing Christian beliefs, through reading Scripture and being around other believers. The transformation happens in a gradual process, that continues all of our lives. With some of the  non-believers we encounter in our live this might occur, , that seed we plant may germinate in time to bring them to Christ.

Paul gives his clearest definition of the spiritual war between the forces of Satan and those who would follow God. It not only assures us that there is a spiritual war, but it warns us that apart from utilizing the weapons which God has provided for us, we are hopelessly underpowered. This passage tells us what our divine weapons are. Beyond this, these weapons imply the nature of the struggle which we are in. The weapons which God has provided for us are those weapons which best repel the attacks of Satan and if we know how to best utilize them, we will be well ahead of the game in fighting the tricks of Satan.

Now, what to do? We are clearly commanded to take an offensive role, to go where the battle is. We are not called to be at the rear, but on the front lines, in this spiritual battle.  With the help of the Holy Ghost, we should be using our tongues boldly as St. Paul says, to spread the Gospel.  You don’t play the defensive in this spiritual battle, as in tactical warfare, nobody ever won a battle by being stuck on the defensive. We have to go on the offensive, go out and spread the Word as Jesus commanded. He did not command us to be on the defensive, but instead to go out on the offensive. . The problem with the church today is that they are afraid of offending people and just think the best way to reach the lost people is to get along with them. This is a strategy that will only lead to failure.

We must boldly preach the truth of the Gospel through ought the world and not worry ourselves with what the world will think. For what the world will think is not as important as what God thinks. And by the word bold, we are not to put a holier than thou air and talk down, nor are we to cruelly shout down the opposition, but with confidence in our voice, we will not allow ourselves to be intimidated by the enemy. We will do our actions and say the truth with clarity and confidence. That is what it means to preach the Word boldly.

The Word spreads “by word of mouth” and by action.  It does not spread by mouth alone! There needs to be work backing up those good words. Your mouth, your actions!

Speaking of actions, Winston Churchill said, “Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”[1]

Churchill was not the first. God wants us to persist.  Consider the case of the nobleman of Capernaum.  The man asked Jesus for help for his son.  Jesus did not immediately grant the request as He needed the man to persist to make a point for those around him.  He responded as he often did to Jews, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”  The man persisted and because Jesus saw faith in him, he said, focusing his attention on faith in God, “Go thy way; thy son liveth” or  "Be on your way. Your son is alive." In other words: "Do not worry. My Word can heal your son at a distance." The boy was healed in the very instant when Jesus spoke the Word. The father believed this Word. So did his household, wife, children and servants. More than one person was healed on that occasion.

This miracle shares characteristics with the previous healing of the Centurion’s son:

  • Jesus has just come back to Galilee.
  • Someone comes to him with a request.
  • Indirectly Jesus seems to refuse at first.
  • The person persists.
  • Jesus grants the request.
  • This leads another group of people (his disciples, the nobleman’s household) to believe in him.
·         
Note the necessity of trusting in Jesus as the giver of life.  Jesus led this nobleman from a "miracle" faith to a true faith in His Word. He does this to us also, but only if we will let Him into our hearts and guide us there. 

"Be on your way. Your son lives." This Word of Jesus was not only a prophecy. It had the power to heal the sick boy. And this Word took the nobleman's worries away. As it will take ours away if we will let it. 

As we see in the Gospel, persistence is a very important part of the Christian life, it helps build our character in bad times, and also in good as well. No matter what we are going through, the persistence in faith is what builds us up as Christians, to keep going  in times that are less than pleasant, as we continue to progress as pilgrims to Our Father above. In distressing times or late at night it is often easy to forget this, but we must remember that we need to keep going, no matter how hard it seems. It is a comforting fact that He is with us in these most distressing times. 

We are asked to let God forgive us our sins and go to battle in this world with His armor.  With Him all things are possible; when we depend on our own pitiful resources, the outcome is in doubt and the result unlikely to be favorable in the end.  When you believe in our Lord and act on that belief, victory is certain in the end.  

Consider also that God, through our Lord, offers forgiveness.  Forgiveness lets you restart your life, regain your foothold, strengthen your soul.  If you accept the forgiveness and go forward you can do great things.  If you will not, and likewise you will not forgive, you will be bound by the prince of this world and doomed to failure.  You will never attain the greatness of which you are capable with God’s grace and help.

Do what is right, I would say no matter if there is no one looking; but He is always looking.  It is not that hard.  Believe, take His help, act on the belief you profess, never ever give up.  

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?

The time to act is NOW.  Will you act?  For whom will you act?  Will you count the cost before you act?

Action, not diction, is what counts.  It is by your actions you are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God



[1] Sir Winston Churchill, Speech, 1941, Harrow School

Friday, October 25, 2019

Nineteenth 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, “…without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts …”

The collect continues on the theme from last week, that without God’s mighty help through the Holy Spirit, we are not able to understand what we need to do to be one with God, to follow His Will; we need Him, through the Holy Ghost, to direct us in our endeavors, beliefs and understanding. We cannot be successful without the help of the Holy Ghost.

This theme is continued and amplified in the Epistle, where Paul writes to the Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verse 17: Yet henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened and alienated from the life of the God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.

Paul basically is saying we should not do as the world does and look into ourselves for guidance in our spiritual lives. If we look to ourselves for inner guidance, nothing good will come out of it. In short, we will be separated from Him for all eternity. We obviously do not want this, so we must look to Him for guidance. Make no mistake, that fixed gulf is very real. There is a way to avoid this fixed gulf; accept His spiritual help and guidance and to let the Holy Ghost into our lives. 

To do that, we must openly accept Him into our hearts and let Him guide our thoughts and actions. This begins by allowing His guidance to enter into our actions and to make His Way our way, so that we are in alignment with what He wants us to do here on Earth. We are making His picture of the world our Picture, and so we act as He would have us act to align ourselves with His Picture. Saint Paul tells us we must begin to live our lives anew, to leave off the old sinful ways and thoughts of our old lives, to reboot as it were, and to start afresh by being honest, not prone to anger, work hard, to think, speak and act kindness and to forgive as you would have God forgive you. 

In short, we are to act on His Instructions, then our lives will change as the natural result of doing what we are supposed to be doing. And our lives will most certainly change for the better if we act and continue to act on His Instructions.  Simply saying you believe changes nothing.  Change your actions and your heart must in the end follow, with the help of the Holy Ghost.  Your heart will be renewed through the entrance of the Holy Ghost.  This will show up a little later on, but it is an important message which bears repeating. It is the same with many changes you need to make in your life, you have to make them, not just say you are going to make them. In other words, to perform the action and not just say you are going to. Many people never get past the stage of saying they will perform the action, but we need to go farther and actually do the action. 

To be successful, Paul says we need to fix ourselves upon the guiding lights of Christ and God and not use ourselves for a moral compass. For if we use our sense of direction, we shall not get far and indeed we will be in much distress, though we would not think it due to our easily corruptible minds. I we rely on Christ as our navigator, He shall never fail us in His directions, if we will but listen to him. He, unlike us, will never let us down or withhold anything that we need to know; the catch is we have to be willing to listen to Him. We have to know He truly knows the way, and that without following His guidance, we cannot have any hope of finding the way on our own. We need to remember this in good times and bad and to always trust in God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost and do our best to follow their instructions to the best our abilities.

Paul also gives very practical and simple, though hard to follow, directions on living our lives:

·      Be honest;
·      Avoid anger;
·      Do not let anger linger over night;
·      Follow not the guidance of the devil;
·      Quit stealing;
·      Work hard;
·      Think kindness;
·      Speak kindness;
·      Act kindness;
·      Forgive as you would have God forgive you, which He hath done in Jesus Christ!

These are all fairly common sense concepts that when we utilize them become wonderful human beings and members of the Church.. While there may be hardships here, if we but hold fast to these principles which Saint Paul gives we will find they not only benefit ourselves, but they will help the people around us.  And that is what is so wonderful about living life in accordance with the Scriptures.  That is what the Gospel is about, spreading the Good News and helping the people around us to become better people and followers of God.  When we help others improving in our corner of the world, gradually as the work of the Spirit spreads, more goodness will help improve further corners of the world.

We move on to the Gospel, where Jesus, attending to a sick man, picks up on the evil thoughts of the temple scribes, who think to themselves Jesus blasphemed.  The reason they are thinking that is that they have allowed darkness in their hearts, like the vanity of the Gentiles minds Paul talked about, which prevented them from seeing the truth of the person of Christ. Anyone who is a true Believer would know that God never blasphemes.  Then He asks them, which is easier, to forgive the sins or to have the man “Arise and walk”? Jesus is making the point that words are nice, but actions are what really produces fruit in the end. We could talk about spreading the Gospel all day long, but if we never actually go out and do it, it means little.

As always, Jesus’ words are important, but only as His actions always match those words. Jesus doesn’t just talk to hear himself talk, unlike some of the more modern “Christian” television preachers.  He talks to make a point and acts in accordance with the point He makes. If we believe His commandments, we will keep them, which means our behavior, our actions, will match His Words.  The book Acts of the Apostles, isn’t “Meditations”, “Philosophies” of the Apostles, but Acts.  Jesus puts forth emphasis on “Actions speak louder than words” through his actions. Actions truly show where a person’s heart is set. Words do not reveal much about a person’s character alone, you need to look at their actions to see where their heart truly lies. They may profess to be a member of Our Lord’s church, but if their actions do not match his profession then we shall clearly know he is not truly our Christian brother. We must make sure our actions match our claimed beliefs in Scripture. If our actions do not match the Scriptures, we are not truly following Christ. We will all struggle with this from time to time, but as long as we return to Christ with true repentant hearts, all will be fine with our souls.

If we profess to be Christians, then we need to act like Christians, not just say we are Christians.  The ending sentence at the end of the sermons I have given thus far goes, “Be of God”, “Live of God” and finally, last but especially not least “Act of God.” We have to Be of God, and Live of God, to live our lives in a Godly and Christian way, which means as Paul said “Henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk”, so should we not walk in the ways of the world but that of God and His Heavenly Kingdom. Our actions which make up our lives need to be in alignment with the principles of Scripture and need be clearly seen. If our lives are not in alignment with Scripture, then we are not living the faith as God has called us to do.  

To Act of God, we must follow the commandments of Christ and act according to them, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. If we actually follow the three step process “Be of God”, “Live of God” and “Act of God”, we will find ourselves in a much better position than walking in the ways of the World. 

The time to act is NOW.  Will you act?  For whom will you act?  Will you count the cost before you act?

Action, not diction, is what counts.  It is by your actions you are known.

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Be of God - Live of God - Act of God