Verse of the Day

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity

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

Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together.

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity
The Collect.


O
 God, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready we beseech thee to hear the devout prayers of the Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Collect says Our God is the author of all perfection; we ask Him to be ready, to hear our sincere prayers: He may answer those things which are good for the Church and the world for which we ask and from His Grace we may receive those things which are good for us.  Left unsaid is that we must be ready to hear and act on His Word. In order to receive those things which are good for us, we must be ready and willing to have them. Which means opening our hearts up to the Holy Ghost and be performing actions which are consistent with Scriptures.

In the Epistle, St. Paul tells the Philippians to follow God and not be dependent on man, as so many in this country are now. The problem he explains with many, who claim they are followers of Christ, but don’t walk the walk, is they are selfish and only think of themselves. There are too many people around the world that think and act in this manner.  They have no desire to help others, and in fact have a desire to tear others down rather than lend them a helping hand. This is not a manner consistent with what Christ has taught us and violates the Summary of the Law, wherein it talks about loving our neighbor as ourselves. He warns them will lead them onto a path of doom and destruction.   Whereas if people would love their neighbor as themselves, it would lead them on a path to prosperity and eternal life. And also, he talks about how the enemies of Christ glory in our shame; this will be their undoing in the end also. It may benefit them for a short while here on Earth but in the end, it will lead them to their everlasting doom. We are not to worry, but rather lean on Our Lord, even in these times of trials and tribulations, some of which we have yet to face. We realize our citizenship is in heaven, for which we look to Our Saviour. If we are on the side of righteousness, of the Lord, of godliness, then who are we to fear?

Nobody; save a respectful fear of Our God.

We will not bow before the forces of darkness; but rather stand tall, equipped with the armor of light, the shield of truth, and the helmet of faith. We will give those in authority the respect that they are due as tradition, but we will not be dependent upon them for our every need and whim.  This is why those who seek to create a larger government are working on supplanting God’s authority over us. For if God is the authority, as He is; man has no power to determine what is right and what is wrong. Man is not responsible for his own power. This is why those who are seeking to enlarge their power over the people in this country are working on destroying the Church. Paul says in the end, these people’s efforts will be in vain and they will be destroyed, as much as they are attempting to destroy us here on Earth. We can be cheered up in these depressing times, knowing we are on the winning side for eternity. We are to turn to God; if we are to be dependent on anything, it must be God upon whom we are dependent, and not Man. Being dependent on man only leads to eternal death for us, but being dependent on God leads to eternal life for us. So, must we put our trust in God as our Eternal Navigator, our Guide throughout the rocky path of life. Returning to Him when we are lost, He will always guide us back to the straight and narrow path.

Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ tells the Pharisees of how they are to deal with the problem of tribute to Caesar. They have no love for the Roman Government, as we have very little love for the swamp dwellers in our Government. However, Christ reminds them to separate their hatred of the government, and do the right thing. As we must give God His due (our worship and prayer), we must give the government their due (taxes, etc.), but this does not mean we treat the government as demi-gods, to put it one way, as politicians often think of themselves.  The government has to earn our respect, not the other way around, which too often it and the members in it forget this simple fact.

We are not to think of the government replacing God, but rather that God has granted the government their authority to govern, but not to supplant Him. His authority is where the government gets their authority, and will always be; whether they choose to recognize that or not, is up to them. That is what we pray for when we pray for the President, that he would recognize God’s authority and align his leadership with that of God’s will. The statists in this country believe the false lie that man can govern man without assistance from God or God’s authority. Governments which do not recognize this fact are in the end, doomed to fail. The history books are filled with pages of failed governments, all failed because they refused to recognize God’s rightful place as the source of their legal authority.

 Jesus’ point is that we give them what they are owed, no more and no less.  The Pharisees were trying to trick Christ to say that you must honor one or the other, when you can do both.  We should be serving God and not man; that does not mean that we do not have to pay our dues to the government that rules us. It is only through God’s grace that he allows government to rule over man. The government we have was established with the recognition it serves at His pleasure. Its Declaration of Independence establishes people have rights endued them by their Creator, not the government. It is with the authority of the people that the government serves. It must exist to serve the people and God. It is not to be a self-licking ice cream cone. Jesus told us to feed the poor people, not create laws that took money from other people to do that purpose, of which he commanded us to do.

The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately.  We have to respect the authorities that govern us, no matter how we disagree or dislike them, and conduct ourselves like Christians. However, that does not mean that we replace the rule of God with the rule of Man. Man’s laws should merely be a restatement of God’s laws, not to replace God’s laws.

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, November 12, 2017

Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity

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

Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction and are all tied together.  Today’s 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   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.
God, what Bishop Cranmer styles as the Church, and how Paul speaks of the benefits of fellowship and joint prayer.

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. These are 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 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 his good works for the Lord. This is the same way with us. Our bond with Christ and our fellow Christians in the AOC strengthens our faith as we tell others about the good news of our Lord and the faith in which we all share.  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 forgivee, 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 hurts our hearts souls and minds. It also goes against Jesus’ words of 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, like 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, but God has done 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.  The lessons today 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, stuck together with the mighty ultimate, stronger than Gorilla Glue, glue of Jesus Christ and God the Father. 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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
The service today was held at Kansas City Executive Airport with Paul Martin in attendance due to travel.  

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 that we might serve Him with peace of mind.  That we might 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. It is not just about drugs, and rock and roll. It is far from it and something more solid and consistent than many people in this world think of it.The peace that God gives us is the calmness 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. For whatever is troubling us be it work trouble, school trouble or home trouble, cannot be greater than Him who created us and all of creation and all the planets and all of the stars. It 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 spending eternity with God and Jesus. It helps us to know that this is only a transitory phase. 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. And so it will be to with some of the non-believers we encounter in our lives, 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 thus we can learn a great deal about the nature of Satan’s opposition from simply considering each of the weapons at our disposal:

                                       Clothing       Truth; this our cloak, as well as our cover;
     Breastplate or Armored Vest       Righteousness; being at one with the One True and Triune God;
                                              Boots       The Gospel; the Word of God will get you there;
                                            Shield       Faith; able to not only ward off blows of evil, but quench the fiery darts hurled at us;
                                          Helmet       Salvation; we are saved already, thus we cannot be harmed by any of the forces of this world, the armored helmet of the gift of salvation given to us by our Lord will protect us in the end, the only time that counts;
                                         Weapon       Up to now, the equipment has been defensive or at least supporting; but to win a war, you need to be on the offense, our offensive weapon is the sword of the Holy Ghost, the Word of God!
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. You must go out and preach boldly and speak the truth and not worry about the consequences of doing so. 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 will not work, this concept is basically aiding and abetting the enemy, also known as treason. We must not commit this dreadful act! 

We must not be afraid to 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.  Of the text, Luther wrote: "Although the Lord performed miracles and signs to make Himself known and to lead people to faith in Him, the underlying purpose was to focus their attention on the Word rather than on the signs which served merely to attest the truth of His testimony. Faith must rest on the Word of God."  Another Lutheran theologian wrote: "In affliction faith is practiced and chastened. If a person can see, taste and experience the help and grace of the Lord, then that person learns to trust the Word and nothing but the Word. That is the true faith, trusting the Lord for its own sake. Such faith comes not from flesh and blood. It's the Lord to which faith clings. That almighty Word works faith."

Jesus led this nobleman from a "miracle" faith to a true faith in His Word. He does this to us also.

"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.  Understand, the result here on earth may not be the one you want, but it is the one God wants for you.  God expects you to accept His help and act with His help to gain victory over the prince of this world.

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