Verse of the Day

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fifth Sunday after Trinity


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:

… the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness

In the Collect, we ask that the events of this world might follow God’s governance or will.  Why?  Because in those places where it does, we find happiness and joy.  It is that simple, it means more, reflect on that. After all, amazing is it not? Since the Garden, it has always been one of the two same choices:

1.    We follow God’s Will for us, we do what is good for us, individually and as a people or a country.  It is hard work, but easier than we imagined; we prosper when all goes well.  It was all our doing, we are happy because we were so smart.

2.    We ignore God’s instructions, doing what we want to do, not what we are supposed to do. It turns out to be way harder than we thought possible, in the end everything turns to weasel spit.  It was not our fault, it is God’s fault, He is punishing us.

As long as we are imperfect creatures with free will, humanity will not change.  The key word in this phrase is will. The will of humanity is set towards embracing sin and running away from God. But there is the possibility that through the Holy Ghost, we as individuals can change and with enough individuals changing, the whole of humanity of change.  Humanity would be better off if we fully embraced the principles found in the Gospel.  However, there is a big obstacle to this: human nature. By our own nature, we are naturally resistant to embracing any kinds of change and most especially change from doing what we want to doing what God wants. We have to understand doing what God wants will be better for us in the long run than doing what we want. 

How do we start changing our corner of the world? What is the best way for us to do so? Peter gives us some helpful hints on this very subject. He advises that we should be of be of one mind, have compassion and pity for each other, to be courteous, to give good to all our brethren, to return good for evil, to seek peace, to do good, not just talk good. Peter tells us we not only need to talk good, we need to act good as well.  These qualities all will improve us, but first we need to let the Holy Ghost into our hearts and let Him help us in adding these qualities. Having compassion and pity for each other is a critical part of being a Christian. These are not qualities we normally have without the Holy Ghost. Being courteous and being good to everyone are also qualities that we lack without the Holy Ghost. These are key principles that will strengthen our spiritual character.

How can we get these qualities? We have to start first with ourselves and allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts to transform us. After we are transformed by the Holy Ghost, only then can we truly be able to help others. Then we can truly act with the one mind that Peter speaks about. It will not happen right away, but it is a steady and continuous process, in fact taking most, probably all, of our lifetime here on earth. But while we are being transformed, we can do our best to help others. To help others, we have to first put ourselves in others’ places, understand when they fall short and make good things happen. 

The key word in off of this is to act! We need to act upon the teachings of Christ, and not just utter them and not do them. All of us, including myself struggle with this, but as long as we are DOING our best, and not just saying it, that is all He asks of us.  We cannot do more than our best. We must be doing our best and not just faking doing our best. There is a significant difference between the two. If you are sincere, people will know it. If you are not sincere, people will also know it too. As they say, actions speak louder than words. And to paraphrase Scripture, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. To understand where a person’s heart is, look at their actions and not their words. Words are meaningless unless they are backed up by actions. We need to perform good actions, with the help of the Holy Ghost, to show that we truly believe.

So, just how do we make good things happen? Fairly simple, if we follow the Summary of the Law and all shall be well in our lives. Every one of the moral laws hangs off of the Summary of the Law “Love your God with all your heart soul and your mind, and Love thy Neighbor as thyself.”.  These two simple, but important, laws are the ultimate benchmark for us, which we should try and do our best to meet. We need to check our actions and compare them against these two to measure our spiritual progress.

If you think about it, all of our problems can be solved by doing what God asks! Don’t try to get out of doing what God wants to do what you want, and don’t look for loopholes.  Don’t be a Pharisee! Consider when Jesus told Simon Peter to go out and set his nets.  Simon was tired, he was hungry, he had fished all night with no result.  After making excuses, he decided to do what he was told! There is a lesson there, instead of making excuses why things are the way they are, why not be quiet and do God’s will instead? It will have a lot better result, that is for sure! 

That is what happened to Simon Peter; that is what will happen to you, if you will but listen and act. Listening and then acting are the key principles of this Gospel, we must listen to what He says, and then ACT upon it.

Do not misunderstand, every day Jesus speaks to you telling you what to do.  It is your choice, you can listen like Simon Peter or you can ignore Jesus.  He has the pony for the lottery.  He wants to give it to you, all you have to do is accept.  While He is a bit more subtle than a Drill Instructor, the question is the same, “Can you hear me?” The problem with us is that we just do not want to hear. That is why we need the Holy Ghost to open up our ears, that we might hear and obey.

There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. 

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 24, 2018

Nativity of John the Baptist, superseding the Fourth Sunday after Trinity


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. 

Consider these words from the Collect:


… sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake…

In the Collect, we are reminded that John the Baptist was sent to  prepare the world for the coming of the Lord.  His primary job was to tell us we were wrong!  To tell us, regardless of how wonderful we think we are, as Paul so eloquently put it, There is none righteous, no, not one:[1]  The religious chosen of the time, the Pharisees and the Saducees, were convinced they held the keys to their own salvation in their odd perversion of The Law. They were not ready to see The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.[2]  John was needed to prepare the way for Jesus to bring that message to them.  Just the same, as we receive that message, we are to bring it to those around us so they might be prepared to receive Christ into their hearts and gain the Gift of Life.  The Collect warns us that today, just as for John, bringing the Truth to the world can be an unpopular and dangerous line of work.  Yet, we are to do so and count the cost later.  By the way, bringing the Truth to people does not mean going out to seek a fight, it means answering questions truthfully and honestly without shrinking from that bright light of God.

Isaiah provides the text that serves as the Epistle and continues the same thought.  Written long before the time of John the Baptist, it clearly foretells John’s mission, if not his coming.  That messenger will cry to the people the Lord is Coming! The Lord is Coming!  Pay attention to Him!    Our lives are but a flash in the pan, our time here is of no consequence.  What we do with that time and who we follow defines who we are and where we will be in time eternal.    Probably the key is the very last sentence where Isaiah tells us of Jesus Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Preparing the way for the Lord was John’s function. Once we join The Church, that is the body of believers, not some building or group or organization, that is our function.  To make straight the way of the Lord.  That is to prepare the world for Him.

While in the Gospel, Luke relates the simple facts of John’s life, there is more to it than that.  John was committed to the Lord from the earliest time.  He was an example for each of us to follow.  He did not let the cares and worries of this earthly existence keep him from acting on the mission God had prepared for him.  His father Zacharias recognized this at a very early age and helped him grow into the mission for which the Lord had chosen him. 

John set an example for us to follow.  He did not just talk about Jesus’ coming with a few of his fellow believers who were comfortable with the idea.  He brought the Word of God to all who would listen so that they might be prepared for the coming and the glory of the Lord.

We have a similar job in the Great Commission to bring the Word of God, the Truth incarnate, to the world around us.  Not necessarily to the darkest part of Africa, but perhaps to even darker places, to the hearts of those around us.

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

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:


… protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal…

We desperately need God’s Help, yet paradoxically, God can only help us if we put our trust in Him, we can never be strong, nor set aside to Him, if we do not let Him be our leader.  No one can be their own leader, no one.  Each of us, no matter our position, must have a immutable directional reference or we become hopelessly lost.  For navigation, we have a magnetic compass or better yet the Pole Star, Polaris, which will tell us True North so we can keep headed in the right direction.  People have died of starvation in a closely wooded area less than a mile across because they became lost while following their own sense of direction.  So it is with our own spirits, that if we rely on our own internal sense of direction we will be come spiritually lost and die a terrible spiritual death.

However if we have the Holy Ghost, we are not separated from God and Chirst and will thus become stronger. If we let the Holy Ghost into our hearts, He  will both strengthen us and help us to holy, that is set aside. He can also help us be merciful to other people. We just need to listen to what the Holy Ghost says and act upon it.  

We need a leader to follow. We cannot be our own leaders. If we try to become our own leaders, it will not work. Fortunately for us God is that  Leader. If we will ollow His lead, we will pass through this world in good order and go on to the next in eternal happiness. This is a very common theme within Scripture, do what God asks, be happy. Don’t do what God asks, don’t be happy. It seems simple enough in theory, but a lot harder in practice. It is a lot easier said or thought about than done.   We want to do what we want to have fun, God wants us to do what we need to do to be happy.  Fun and Happy do not mean the same thing, sometimes, actually oft times, used interchangeably, their meaning is orders of magnitude different.

God is the only one who we should be concerned about, if we follow Him, then those who really matter will like us for who we are and how we conduct ourselves while following God and those who don’t are of no concern. Doing what is right is a far more important matter to be concerned with then making sure people like you. Do what is right, avoid what is wrong and you will be happy is a basic principle of the Christian faith.

Paul builds on this, telling us that walking God’s path, though it may seem hard at the time, is nothing compared to the reward we receive in heaven for following God’s will. He is encouraging us to envision this everytime we are encountering times of trouble and or sorrow. In the end, our reward will outweigh all of our struggles, if we will but keep the course that the Holy Ghost sets out for us.

At first living with the Holy Ghost’s/Scriptures advice  may seem like constrained way of living. However once actually lived the life that God prescribes for us is really perfect freedom. It only seems constrained, because we cannot conceive how following His Word will allow us true freedom. If we overcome temptation to do what we want and do what God wants, we will receive the gift of eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  For until Christ, there was no delivery from the pain of worldly existence; through Christ there is redemption of our souls and our resulting bodily resurrection. This is the great gift that Christ has given us, the redemption of our souls and our entry into Heaven, by his sacrifice made once for all time, He secured our entrance into heaven. This is a gift that we should always be thankful for. 

Luke presents a simple message, yet one that is often misunderstood, with majestic language which brings the message to a point of incredible sharpness.  We cannot help others until our own problems are on the way to being solved through the salvation offered by Christ. We cannot be the guide to Christ for others until we get the help we need to walk the road to Heaven. We need to follow Him, before we ask others to follow us.  After all, if we are not going in the right direction, what positive value is there in others following us?  We do not want to be leading others towards The Pit, rather, we want to be sure we are on the right path before we guide others along the path. We should be pathfinders, finding the correct path to travel on the journey of life! We must be honest in our appraisal of ourselves so we can do what we are supposed to. We also must not judge unrighteously, but judge with righteous judgment through the Holy Ghost. This means not judging others for sins yourself are committing. 

The point is that without the Holy Ghost, all of our judgments are unrighteous. This is what Christ was talking about, and after it, condemn not, lest ye be condemned.  This is the part of Scripture that most people seem to forget about. When He said use righteous judgement, he was talking about judging people’s behavior by the standards of Scripture, not condemnation. He was talking about using the Scriptures as the standard for judging individual’s behavior. He does not mean us to condemn others. This is connected with the parable of the mote. Often times when we are tempted to condemn somebody, we often ignore our own failures and focus on theirs. Let us get our act together first, before we help others. So, how can we, imperfect as we are, be honest with ourselves?  The answer is easy, hard to implement, but easy! The Holy Ghost!  Let Him into your heart and do what you are told.  Simple, yet hard to do.  We want to do what we want to do. But yet, it is what must be done, no matter how hard it seems at the time. It will get easier as we do it, but it will never be truly easy. But it is way easier than the alternative, which is not following God’s Word.

Speaking of doing, what we do to others is a good measure of how we follow God’s Will and Direction.  This is the reasoning behind action speaks louder than words. Talk is cheap, action can cost more than words. If you want to know where a persons heart truly lies, you check their words against their actions. We are expected to treat others as we would be treated.  Our real earthly fortune, as well as are eternal lives, are a reflection of our commitment to God.

We are so ready to condemn the performance of others when our own is even worse.  It is common within all of us, especially me particularly. As Paul tells us, “all fall short.”  The operative word here is ALL.  If we look to condemn and repair our own spiritual lives before condemning others, we will be better suited to help them.  Our beam before their mote.

For only when we have taken care of our own spiritual health by looking to God for help to evaluate and improve how we follow His Word, we will be able to effectively spread the Word of His love for us.

And that is our job, to improve ourselves to effectively spread His Word by example; our action, not our diction, is the measure.

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]Romans 3:10
[2]1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Third Sunday after Trinity

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:

… hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities …

The Collect starts as they often do by asking God to hear us.  It seems to me that this is rather odd a thing to ask as He hears us all the time; the problem is that when we need His Help we so rarely ask, then when He answers, we will not hear Him.  That being said, when we do accept the Holy Ghost’s Help to pray, we can expect to receive spiritual, mental and physical comfort from God.  The key word in this is accept.  In order to receive the comfort from God, we have to first let him into our hearts to begin his renewal of our spirit. If we do not accept the Holy Ghost’s help, then God will not be able to help us.

It would be foolish not to accept the Great Physician’s help to transform our spirits. It would be like having cancer, and there being a cure for cancer and rejecting that cure. For without the help of the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we truly cannot follow Christ. We of ourselves cannot follow God without His Divine Assistance. We are sheep that have gone astray from our shepherd and without Jesus, we will be wolf food. And the wolf I am speaking of is Satan. Peter uses the point that Satan is like a lion seeking of whom he can spiritually devour. For this example, the wolf and lion are almost equivalent. Satan is a spiritual predator that we can only defeat with the Holy Ghost within our heart.

However when we accept the Holy Ghosts help into our heart, we must let go of our pride, arrogance and evil ways. Prideful beings cannot be followers of Christ. For undue/unchecked pride is what has led the downfall of many people/leaders and their nations, like the Roman Empire for example. Peter makes this point when he says that God resists the proud and gives His Grace to the humble. The humble are those who are more likely to accept His Grace and the Holy Ghosts’ help to renew their spirit. The proud are those who think they are self-made people and scoff at the very idea of God sending his only begotten son that we should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). These people are very resistant to God and the Holy Spirt and they are truly the ones who are deaf they will not hear the Word and so blind they cannot see the truth of the Gospel.

The humble know they cannot make it into heaven on their own; thus they know they need that divine help and are willing to accept it. They know that nothing great can be achieved without God’s help. These are the people to whom God gives His Grace, those willingly embrace His Help and utilize it in their lives.

We must strive to be humble in our lives and less prideful. Pride obscures our spiritual vision, so we cannot see our own faults in our own lives. When we let go of that pride, we can see where we are in error and when we accept the Holy Ghost help, we can begin to fix the cracks and faults in our spiritual character. The Holy Ghost can shine a light into the darkest areas of our hearts. Jesus could do this as well and He knew very well the spiritual character of each person He encountered in His Earthly Ministry. 

With a clear view of the inner most thoughts of their hearts, Jesus tells the Pharisees the story of the shepherd who loses a sheep and searches for it.  When he finds it he carries it back to the flock on his shoulders. He goes on to tell the story of the woman who loses a piece of silver and turns her house inside out to find it. That story ends in a very interesting word play in English, “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece (peace) which I had lost.”  Jesus ends the story with, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” 

The moral of the parable is that Jesus is all about saving the sinners, not those who are already “righteous.” But for us, there are none who are already “righteous.” I liken the church as a hospital for sinners. And all of the saints were sinners in the past too, to paraphrase my mother. Having said that, there is also joy when we do not sin, but choose God’s way.  And we enjoy it more also. So, it is preferable if we do not sin in the first place, but if we can’t do that, then God finds joy when we truly repent and turn back to Him and ask for His help and be willing to listen.

Notice Jesus’ actions when He finds a lost sheep, He carries it back to the flock on His shoulders with a smile on His face. He rejoices in each lost soul saved. This is what the Church is about, bringing lost souls to Our Shepherd of Souls, Our Savior, Our Advocate, Jesus Christ, to His Kingdom of Heavenly Joys.

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 10, 2018

Second Sunday after Trinity

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 never failest to help and govern those whom thou dost bring up in thy stedfast fear and love; Keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name…


We must fully understand and acknowledge God will help and lead us, but only if we will look to Him for that help and leadership. The spiritually blind (us) cannot lead the blind (also us). We are spiritually blind without God’s help. We need His Help, in the form of the Holy Ghost, to direct our hearts, minds and souls to look to Him for that Help in our time of need.  Thus, we continually ask God, through the offices of the Holy Ghost, to help us understand we actually need help and be open to accepting it.

Speaking of time of need; when do we need God?  Pretty much whenever we are not perfect, which would be all the time.

The Epistle is a great illustration of why we need guidance from the Holy Ghost all the time.  The world is not a nice place and at times it gets depressing to be in. John says we should not be surprised that the world hates us. For the World does not know of God and His Word so they fear that which they do not understand, namely the Word. We should not worry though because even in the times of darkness, we do have an ally. That ally is the one person that is always there for us, regardless of how dreary and awful it gets. And that is God, and He has a way to comfort us in these times, through His Love and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is here to help us spread that love, and to help us figure out what we need to do, to make our corner of the world a better place. But how do we get His Love?  If we want God’s love, we have to love those around us.  That is pretty easy.  It is easy to love people.  It is harder to put that actual love into practice. The problem is we actually have to act on that claim of love, not just say we love them.  We have to give of our time and effort to help those around us who have problems. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is harder than it sounds. John tell us “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”

So how far do we have to go to fulfill our obligation to love our fellow beings?  We have a leader, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is not onlythe Propitiation for our sins[1], but who set the standard for our performance. As John reminds us, “He laid down his life for us.”  So, too much workor I don’t have timeare probably not valid excuses. There is no excuse for not doing as Christ did and loving our fellow beings even unto death. There is no excuse adequate to get us out of this job. So, we must perform this task with great cheer. There is no true love without cheerfulness and a giving heart. We may be serious at times, but we can still be cheerful in that we have the love of God within our hearts and we can spread that to others.  Don’t forget the little reminder from GK Chesterton:

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.

Speaking of time, many times people put off church for other “more important” things, do you?  Like the certain man who made a great supper, the Lord sets aside a time every week for us to worship with Him.  Actually, His time is pretty flexible.  The Lord’s worship can be done at times other than 1000 on Sunday morning if you really do have to work, you have weekend duty, you are on alert or something you really cannot get out of.  But, where are your priorities?  Is a football game, a fishing trip or just plain sleeping in the “reason” for your failing to show for the great supper?  When you fail to plan ahead, you plan to fail.  So always plan ahead and plan for success, that way you will never fail to show for the great supper. That is one of the big lessons of Jesus’ parable in the Gospel today. All the men in the story that made excuses were showing where their priorities truly lay and that was with mammon and not God. 

The Gospel is about more than just going to church, it is about priorities.  We need to put the things that are really important in the list of things to do above the things that are not really important.  We need to think about what is important to us and to God.  Sometimes they are different.  Then, we need the Holy Ghost to get our priorities in order.

People do what is important to them.  When they feel guilty they come up with excuses, but in reality, they please themselves.

So, what we need to do is ask the Holy Ghost for help to make God’s agenda ours; thus when we please God, we please ourselves.  A win – win situation. And it will make us far happier people as a result, which is what God’s plan is for us all along. Whenever He tells us not to do something, it is to make us happy not sad. He never wants us to be sad, to the contrary, He wants us to be happy. But unlike us, He really does know what will make us happy, and that is to follow His Will. But until we get that thought into our hearts, souls and minds, we will never be truly happy. 

If we do not make time for God, how do we expect Him to make time for us?  If we will not diligently study the lessons He has left for us, how can we expect to know what He wants us to do?

Do you recall more sage words from GK Chesterton?

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


We need to come to church and read the Bible so we can find out what God wants.  But, the idea is not to find out what He wants so we can work around it or live with it, but rather to live it. Once we find out what God wants for us, we need to live that reality He has planned for us, not the one that we want for ourselves.  This means putting into practice in our day to day lives, wherever we may be, the principles of Scriptures. Think about the 613 Mosaic laws and the Pharisees who made a good living telling people how to comply with them to the letter and still do just as they wanted.  

If we find out what God wants and decide to actually do it instead of avoid it, we are still faced with an often huge problem of where do we get the strength to accomplish this task.   However, the answer is simple, it comes from God, the Holy Ghost.  He never asks us to do anything we cannot do good enough for Him if we rely on Him.  Never. 

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]Book of Common Prayer,the Comfortable Words, Page 76

Sunday, June 3, 2018

First Sunday after Trinity

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:

… the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; … through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed…

This is a little longer Collect than usual, but in it we acknowledge God is the source of our strength, as without Him we are weak and cannot do any true good.  Thus, we ask His help or grace to do His Will in both in our thoughts and actions. This is a consistent theme through all the collects, because it is based on the simple truth we cannot help ourselves and we need true Divine Guidance in order to make it into heaven.  We need His Guidance to perform the actions we need to follow the course that Jesus has set for us.

And, what is the first action we are to take?  To love one another.  Saint John pointed out if we do not love our fellow creatures here on earth whom we have seen and touched, how then can we claim to have love for God, whom not one of us have seen?  We do not love God if we do not love our fellow humans.  No matter how far they have strayed from His path, we are still to love them and offer them help and help others. Jesus came to serve as the ultimate Servant, He serves as a perfect example.  Even though He is the King, He has chosen to be a humble King, one who puts His Flock before His Own life. He is the model we must truly follow if we are to call ourselves Christians. We are not Christians if we are not following His example of selflessness to the best of our ability.

We are called to love individuals. For many of us, the first step is to stop hating them, for if love is the epitome of good, hate is the nadir of evil.   Hate is a truly bad thing for us, it is all consuming and all destroying.  First, stop hating, hate no person.  No one is evil enough to justify your hating them. There are many people whose removal from this world would be a benefit to the world, that does not mean you should hate them.  Hating does not produce any positive effects to help God’s cause here on Earth. It rather detracts from His Cause. It is like a slow acting poison consuming your mind until you are no longer following Him.  You can feel sad for them, depending on circumstances you may be justified in sending them out of this world.  Do not hate.  Do not condemn to Hell; that is God’s job, not yours.

Loving does not mean approval of acts sinful and harmful to one’s health, spiritual or physical. This is concept which confuses many today. We cannot condone smoking or homosexual acts or abortion. Though we may know individuals who do these things, we must despise the sin, but realize these people, no matter how truly fallen they may be (Some are worse than others, but none are better. As Paul says, all fall short), are people created in the express image of God by God.  It is our duty to attempt to shine the light of Christ for them, so they might see their inner darkness and return to Him. 

However, if they are not receptive, then we must not force it upon them, as do not cast your pearls before swine, but merely shake the dust off your feet and walk way. You never know what seeds you plant in your interactions with unbelievers or lapsed Christians which in the end may serve to guide them on or back to the path leading upward and inward to God’s country. 

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  

God loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for our sins.  That is true love.  Not that we love Him, but that first He loved us!  God is the source of true love and He is the reason true love has so many wonderful qualities, so strong and enduring. It has come from a Divine Source more special than any jewel on this planet and He gives true love its remarkable resilience and strength. So, if God first loved us, ought we also not love each other?  No one has seen God at any time.  Yet, He loves us and we say we love Him.  If we do love one another, then God is in us, the Holy Ghost, and we are in Him.  Be bold, the world will end sometime; for each of us this world ends when we leave here.  Fear not, trust in God and dread naught. 

Do not be afraid to love one another, regardless of what any man says. Do not fear man, only fear God, the great Judge, and Jesus the Advocate, and the Spirit, the Purifier, Guiding Light. Man can do nothing in comparison to God. And yet, God still loves us despite all our faults and having been condemned to death since the beginning of creation with the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden.  God and His love will keep fear and the damage it does at bay.  Love each other and act on that love.

To love one another and ACTon that love.  To consider the ways we might help others and then ACTually help them.  It is not a question of giving, but helping.  The rich man could have helped Lazarus, but it never entered his head. The rich man, like many of us sadly, only thought of himself. Jesus illustrates perfectly in this parable what happens when we only think of ourselves and do not help or even think of others. If the rich man thought of poor Lazarus, it was to think he was an irritation or an eye sore.  He could have taken pity on him and ACTually helped him, like the Good Samaritan. Instead, he just let him die, figuring that that was the end of him.  Lazarus was a rather disgusting feature of his world and when he died, the rich man was pleased not to have to pass by him.  Yet, it never entered into his head to help.  

How is that possible?  

Simple, his eye was not on the donut, but on the hole.  The rich man cared about all the things that don’t count and never considered those that do. Which is, as said earlier, a problem at all of us face at one time or another due to our very nature of being sinful beings.  We tend to get caught up in school, work or pleasure and everything in between and forget to tend to our spiritual health and as you neglect a plant by not watering it and nurturing it, if you so neglect your soul, you will have a horrible death. And as a consequence, we also forget how important it is to love one another and do our best to help our fellow men out. This is exactly what happened to the rich man. He lost sight that we are to love our fellow men as ourselves and that doing so would give him far more happiness than if he continued on his self-centered, unloving course of action that ultimately brought him to the pit. We can learn from the rich man’s example and strive not to be like him.  Everyone on this planet has a purpose, even if it is only to serve as a bad example. However, if you nurture and water your soul with Scripture and allow yourself to be guided by the Holy Ghost, you will have an absolutely wonderful life from now to eternity, after all if you have eternal life it starts NOW, not tomorrow. For indeed, tomorrow never comes.

It must be understood between heaven and hell there is a great gulf fixed.  It is equally important to grasp the gulf is not of God’s making but ours. It is us who keeps us from the heaven He offers freely, yet at a great price. 

Put your trust in God and dread naught. Love those around you and ACTon that love.  It does not matter if they are the same religion as you, but you still must love and act towards them all the same.  That does not mean baring your throat to the Koran following Muslims; but it does mean treating them with kindness and charity until you must act to defend you and your way of life from them.  They deserve pity, for as they follow Allah, that is the Devil, as Christ said They know not what they do.Think how you can help, not how you can “enjoy” life. Helping does not mean simply giving money to those who don’t have it, no strings attached, although it might at times. It never means supporting those who do not feel like supporting themselves.  For dependency breeds slothfulness and contempt.  Dependency destroys the soul.  What is does mean is facilitating a way for those who do not have what they need to earn what they need; to bring them the means of acquiring those things which they need.  Those things are spiritual as well as physical.  A hand up; not a hand out.  You will find out the more you help, the more you enjoy real life.  Whether it is helping somebody at the office, around the neighborhood or a friend, there is immense pleasure from the result of helping people, so much more than feathering your own nest, so to speak. It is not only more blessed to give than to receive, but it brings a lot more happiness into your life.

This is hard to do. We want to concentrate on what makes us feel good about ourselves right here and right now.  We have to be coerced into staying on the narrow path upward and inward.  But, that is where our home is.

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Trinity Sunday

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

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.  

We know:

·     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.  That must be enough for the here and now. It is 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 is 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 God requires!  Not you, not me.  God.  Trying to think about those detailed 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?  John attempts to tell us.  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 is 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 “fair”, there is only one way into heaven.  That door is at the end of a long and narrow trail, steeply inclined upward with many seemingly easy, smooth, beautiful and interesting branches leading downward into the pit.  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.

We need help!  Lots of help.  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.  A new start.

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