Verse of the Day

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

The entire AOC Sunday Report is available RIGHT HERE!
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.

Consider the words of the Collect:  “…whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises…”

In our prayer to God, we acknowledge that His only or greatest gift is that we are, through Him, able to give Him true service.  For, it must be understood the only way we can really be happy is when we align our being with His Being.  Truly align, not get around restrictions.  There is a big difference.  We are not trying to avoid being caught in a rule, but trying to live by the Big Picture and not worry about little things.  How do we do this? Well, we first must trust God in our hearts, souls and minds. Then we love Him with all our hearts souls and minds, this creates a solid foundation for serving Him laudably throughout the rest of our days.

In order to serve him, we have to remember to love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  This is the first step to following him. This is kind of a follow on to last week’s message, but in a sense, the Bible echoes itself at various points, especially in the New Testament. We need the help of the Holy Ghost in order to love Him with all of our hearts souls and minds, so we need to ask Him into our hearts, and only then can we truly love Him with all of our hearts souls and minds. Then, you have to act upon your trust in Him. If you trust Him truly, as a spiritual parent, then just like with your earthly parents, you will take His advice into consideration and acting upon them. It will be like whenever you make a big decision in later years, you think of what your parents would counsel. So, too, it will be in spiritual matters, you think of what God would counsel you to do.  In the old times, God had to prepare the people for the coming of Christ. So the Law of the Old Testament was an intermediate step to prepare people for Jesus. People had to be trained to follow the basic moral laws, before they could even comprehend the message Jesus gave.

If we do what we should do, we will follow the little rules as a matter of course.  If we get the important things the little things will follow soon after. The only rules that are important really come from:

1.     Love thy God with all thy heart and soul and mind;
2.     Love they neighbor as thyself. 

As Jesus says, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” He means all of the moral laws and preaching of the prophets past can be traced back to these laws, which comprise the basis for all of the laws that would follow thereafter, especially the Ten Commandments.  The 613 Mosaic Laws can call be traced back to these two commandments. They are the “Basic Speed Laws” of the Christian faith; there is no way to get around these two and be within the spirit or the intent of the Law.

Trying to follow the Law failed to solve the problems of the people it was designed to help and they spent their time thinking about how to get around technicalities which is different than doing what is right. To comply with the Law is a different matter than finding loopholes around the Law. The Pharisees did the latter, and we should do the former.

In California, we have this law called The Basic Speed Law. It says you should drive no faster than is safe. If there is a bend of road posted at 40 miles per hour, but it is really safer to go 25 mph, which is complying with the intent of the law?

The Pharisees would have you find a loophole in a 25 miles per hour zone for example, by just going 25 miles per hour. But, what if the area it is in is not safe for 25 mph, more like 15 miles per hour?  Could you honestly think going 25 miles per hour in what is actually a 15 miles per hour area is within the intent of the law? No! It is the same with trying to go around the intent of the Law. We cannot honestly say we are doing something within the spirit of the Law, when we are only doing lip service to it. We must be within the intent or spirit of the Law, rather than trying to find ways around the Law.  Follow, not avoid.

With the Summary of the Law, we are meant to follow the spirit of the Law, which actually is to love God with all of our hearts souls and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we act in this spirit we are following the Summary of the Law or the framework for all of the other moral laws in the Bible. We have to think of whether our actions are following within in this spirit of the Law whenever we set out to do something. We must judge it by these two and see whether it is a righteous action and within the spirit of the Law or not. If it isn’t, then we probably should not do it. If it is, then we should do it. 

In the Epistle, we are reminded God chose Abraham not because of he complied with The Law, for the Law was far into the future.  God chose Abraham because he had faith, put his trust in God and desired to follow Him.  The Law was an aid to man to help him be better when he had difficulty following God’s Will.  

If we do the same and put our trust in God, we will be able to perform the laudable service He so desires for the rest of our days. We have to keep this continuous process of faith and trust going. The best way to do that is to learn and absorb the Scriptures as a whole, to see the large picture of what He wants for us. The Law is a small part of the large picture, when we see how it ties into the New Testament, we have a larger understanding of what God wants in our lives, as individuals. Once you see how it fits into the larger picture, then you can see how your actions are part of the much larger picture of God’s Plan.  That is to follow the Great Commission, to spread the Gospel of our Lord, which will improve the lives of those who truly believe upon Him and bring true Happiness throughout the globe.

However, not everyone on the globe will follow Him, and they will not be truly happy as a result. An example of this are the Pharisees; religious lawyers who specialized in the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death, not life.  Their job was to help people not break The Law without unduly interfering with their lives by forcing them to embrace the intent of The Law.

When the Pharisee of the Gospel asked Jesus what he should do to gain eternal life, the Pharisee correctly summarized The Law: Love God; Love your neighbor.  He would have been fine had he stopped there.  But, he had to show the Son how smart he was.  In doing so, the lawyer was about to learn the first lesson of lawyering, ‘Never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.’  So he asked, ‘Who is my neighbor?’  The answer, of course, is everyone but you; the rest of humanity.  But, as was often the case, Jesus presented the story of the injured man helped by the Samaritan, then asked who was neighbor to the injured man?

The priest and the Levite would not see the injured man; there are none so blind as those who will not see.  They could or would not follow the second commandment of the Summary of the Law, of loving they neighbor as thyself. They were too prideful to see the truth of loving they neighbor. They were too wrapped up in the riches and cares of this world. 

The material things of this world are temporary and they have blinded and ensnared many. This is the reason the Jews have not yet come to Christ and they will not come to Christ. They care too much about the symbolic rituals of their Temple and are blind without the Holy Ghost. They are very much like many churches of today in that respect, caring about their position on Earth more than following God’s clearly stated will.  Focusing on this world, which is only a temporary state, is a foolish and fleeting thing. Things on this earth will corrupt and rust and pass away, but things in Heaven and life in Heaven will never corrupt and pass away. We should focus on things eternal, not on things temporary.  What they should focus on is their eternal life. While they claim to know the concept of Heaven, they truly do not know it or believe in it per se.  For it is action that demonstrates and validates claimed belief.

The Jews cared only about not breaking The Law on Earth and hoping that flawed concept would bring them salvation. No matter how they followed it, they could not obtain salvation on their own. The missing link to their solution was one that has been here since The Creation: Jesus Christ. They are searching for Him, but they cannot find Him, as He is right under their noses. He is right in front of them, but they will not see Him as their Messiah. So they are doomed to always looking for Him, but never being able to find Him until they open up their spiritual senses. This is the problem with the World as well. They search for the answers He provides, but they will not acknowledge Him or His solutions.

The world would be better off if they learned the lesson the lawyer learned in today’s Gospel. You will also note the Samaritan, one of those separated from the chosen mass of Judaism, did his duty.  When he left the injured man at the inn, having given the innkeeper roughly two days wages, he said, “Do what need be done, if I owe more I will pay when I pass by next.”  You will note, he put no limit on his duty, he just committed to doing what needed to be done, regardless of cost.  

The lawyer to his credit answered honestly, “He that shewed mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

Right is not a matter of quantum; it is not a matter of majority rules or public opinion; actions speak louder than words. 

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them.  

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, August 14, 2016

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

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

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
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.

Consider the words of the Collect, wherein we ask God who is … more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask …

For the first time in a long time, this collect acknowledges that we are continually pray to God, asking Him for what WE want.  Yet, how oft do we listen to Him when He responds with what we need?[1]  If we will listen to Him and DO what He asks, He will give us more than we have need of, more than we ask for, more than we can even desire. The point of the collect is that He has unlimited resources for this and also able to forgive us for things of which are bearing on our conscience. Yet, it requires us to listen to Him, then ACT[2] on what we are told.  When we ask His forgiveness, when He gives it, we need to accept it and live it; if we live in the past, we never will benefit. We have to accept it in the present. The present is the only realm of time in which we have complete control of our actions and thoughts and can influence people around us.  We cannot influence things in the past or in the future, we can only do our part in the here and now. The Line of Time stretches from the unfathomable past, back to The Beginning, all the way to the unknowable future, all the way to The End.  God is in both places all the time, thus He knows The Beginning, as well as The End.  But, where God’s finger touches that line lies The Present.  Right now; where we live; the only place we, as humans, can live.

The past has already happened; we cannot change the past. The future has not yet happened, but can only be influenced through our actions in the present. So that brings us to the present, which is the most important part of time, the only place where we can act directly for Him. We have to remember the only time in which we can influence our action with the help of the Holy Ghost is within the present. We just need to remember the past for our future actions; if there was any bad we did in the past, we just need to not repeat it. We can learn from the past and use it as object lessons, but we must not stay there. We need to keep moving forward. We will never be in tomorrow, and we can never go back to the past, but we are always within the present. We must prepare for the future, but not live or even live in dread of there.  So, then let us accept His forgiveness now, not tomorrow, not yesterday, but today. 

God gives us guidance through the Holy Ghost, if we will but accept it.  He gives us the power to act in the spirit of The Law.  The Law or actually 613 little laws turned out to be in of itself a death sentence.  The Jews could not, or would not, comply with the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death.  The Law brought Death, but the New Testament of Jesus Christ brought to us Life, true everlasting life. 

The Jews only cared about not violating the Law, not about the spirit of the Law which was intended. Following the letter of the Law does not save an individual, following the spirit of the Law is what counts. If you follow the spirit of the Law, you are following what the Law was meant for. Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of the Law. As the embodiment of the Law, He gave us the important bits of the law, when He gave us the summary of The Law, which through Him would bring life, everlasting life and happiness here on earth:

T
HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. 

Only two laws to comply with, which though simpler, are harder:

1.     Love God
2.     Love your neighbor like yourself

Think about it, if you do those two things, you will find you need no other real moral guidance.  Loving God and loving your neighbor like yourself will greatly improve your life and others around if you consistently follow it.  The Summary of the Law is the spirit of the New Testament, which is we are to love God and love our neighbors. These are both things seemingly contrary to our sinful nature, but with the help of the Holy Ghost, they can be overcome. And they are also both things that will greatly improve our lives here on Earth. If not in a monetary sense, most certainly our lives will be improved spiritually if we follow the Summary of the Law. If you understand the Big Picture, you know what to do on your part of the Little Picture to make your world line up with His World.  Just like the sight picture on a rifle, lining up the sights with the target. We want our sights to line up with His Picture. We want our sight picture to be the same as His. The problem is just like the Jews, we cannot perfectly follow those either. Because we come from the same common ancestor, Adam, we have the curse of free will. We often exercise this free will poorly, rather than in the way God intended, which is to focus on Him.  But we can at least do our very best to follow those directions and change course whenever we aren’t headed in the right direction.  That is where the Holy Ghost can be so useful for us, inputting change of course corrections to us. We just need to listen to His input and then act upon it accordingly. 

In the Gospel, Jesus helped a deaf man with an impediment of speech. We are like that deaf man, who cannot seemingly hear God’s commands, or won’t. We have a speech impediment in that we often utter incorrect or outright sinful words in our day to day lives. We are asking for Him to heal us of both spiritual impediments. Without His help, we cannot be cleared of our spiritual deafness and uncleanliness.  And like that deaf man, if we will allow Him into our hearts, Jesus Christ will remove that spiritual block that causes the spiritual deafness and uncleanliness. The key phrase here is that we have to allow Him into our hearts.  He won’t come in uninvited; we have to on our own will, willingly invite Him in. Only then can He start the cleansing process.

Only Christ can purify our hearts, souls and minds. However, before He can do that, we have to make the conscious effort to let Him into our hearts. He does not enter into hearts where He is not wanted. Only with that continual, conscious effort, can He dwell within our hearts and save us. It is through His faith, His sacrifice we are saved, but we must show that we are with Him, by acting for Him. This is a continuous process that will go on for the rest of our earthly lives.

Doing our best is all that God asks of us, not just saying we are doing our best when we aren’t.  But, happily for us Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf accounts us as just before God.  So, now we know that, who do we tell about it?  Do we let people know, or do we hide our allegiance to the Lord?   If you hide your allegiance, you really have none.  Thus, we must be open about our allegiance and share the Good News with others, so they in time may come to seek the joys of His Kingdom. They may not understand right away, but the seed of the Lord may germinate and grow within them, so that within due course they may understand the Word and come to seek Him. A seed does not instantly become a large sycamore tree, it takes years of watering and good sunshine for the plant to grow into the large tree. It is the same with us, it takes years of good spiritual food and drink (Holy Scripture and the Holy Ghost) and of being with fellow believers who are learning along with you to grow spiritually. We have to remember this every time we are preaching to the Word to an audience who may not have received much nurturing. We may not see results right away, but the Holy Spirit will plant the seed and over the years, with constant nurturing, that seed will grow into a great Sycamore tree of the Spirit.

The Holy Ghost is a large part of our spiritual lives. Without Him, we could not be considered one of Christ’s sheep. We have to let Him into our hearts and lead the transforming and renewal of our minds. Without His help, we cannot adequately follow Him. In other words, we are doomed without the help of the Holy Ghost, which will give us His guidance and advice in conducting our church, professional and personal lives. 

When Jesus opened the ears and mouth of the deaf mute, He did for him what the Holy Ghost will do for us, if we will but let Him open first our ears to hear, then our mouths to testify, communicate and direct.  We must lead people to God, not try to push them.  Thus, we need to strive, each of us, to follow God more closely so we can pull on the lead rope.  Leading requires being in front of the people you are attempting to lead, having them follow your example towards an objective.  Study Jesus’ life, He is a perfect example of a leader.  We cannot ever be perfect, but we can strive for that perfection in our actions.

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them.  
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] Herein lies another problem.  If we pray, it seems we continually pray for what we want and we oft want things that are contrary to our actual needs.  Imperfect creatures with free will, a bad combination in itself, we continually use and understand in our hearts two words: need and want, to mean the same thing; when in fact they often mean two diametrically opposed things.  Thus, amongst other things and perhaps before, we need to pray for the Holy Ghost to help us to understand the difference and ask for what we need.
[2] Here we are again, back to the old Action, not Diction, is what counts!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Eleventh 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 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 from the Collect, wherein we ask God … who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; …

Once again, this Collect is kind of a follow-on to the last few weeks’ Collects.  First, we acknowledge God’s power which is manifested not in terror but in mercy and pity on our failures.  This is important to note; with all the power in and of the universe, God chooses to manifest His Power in showing infinite mercy and kindness to us, not in causing us more tears. He is far kinder to us than we could ever possibly deserve. We would expect Him to be otherwise, given our fallen nature.  Rather than be unforgiving and unmerciful, He is there to comfort and help us.  He showed us His Great Mercy when He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He had no reason otherwise to do it, but through His Great Mercy for us, He sent His Son to die for us that we might be freed from sin. This is a wonderful example of His Mercy.  He does not act as a human would in His position, but rather being a merciful and mindful God to us. He realizes our struggles and gives us resources to us to help with those struggles. The Holy Ghost and the Scriptures are these resources. They are our valuable navigation aids to keep us on the course towards heaven. Without them we are like the aviator or mariner, that without the navigational aids, they are hopelessly lost. So too, are we hopelessly lost without the aids of the Holy Ghost and Scripture.

Thus, the Collect goes on to ask His Help in following His Commandments that we might gain the good that comes from that following.  And we would hope that we recognize the good that comes from that following and choose to repeat doing the following as opposed to going astray such as our tendency is. The following His Commandments is a sure way to stay on that course that is set for us, if we follow the Scriptures and His Commandments and take them to heart. To take them to heart we need to make sure our actions are consistent with His Commandments, and not just say we are following them when we are not. 

As imperfect creatures with not just free will, but manifold, perhaps rampant free will, the norm is to choose what we want, not what we need, then we come to calamity.  We are each grievous sinners, some worse than others, none better.  Yet, we all come before God equal.  In equally big trouble, some more, none less. We are all equal by virtue of the fact we are hopeless sinners without the saving grace and faith of Christ.  It is only through His Faith we are saved.  And not our faith, but the faith of Christ who dwells within us.

This is the point Saint Paul is making when he says that first he gave unto us[1] that understanding he got directly from God as to the role of Jesus Christ.  He recounts some of the factual information about Jesus’ time here on earth after the crucifixion, the descent into hell and the resurrection. He is confirming the story of the Gospel as told to him. He notes the various witnesses, still alive or recently passed away.  He makes the point we must spread the gospel so that others might believe.  He tells us we are saved by faith alone. 

Our faith?  Partly, but not chiefly and not first. Then, by whose faith are we saved?

We are saved by the perfect faith of Christ, our only mediator and advocate before the Father.  It is not by our faith, but the faith of Him who dwells within us, that of Christ. Without Christ, we could not have any faith to begin with. The perfect faith of Christ allowed a single sacrifice to be made one time, to cook the books and account for the sins of all mankind for all time.  His is the faith which saves us and our faith in Him allows Him to operate in us. If we do not have faith in Him, He cannot enter into us with His faith. That is why those who do not have the Holy Ghost in them do not believe in Him.  One of Paul’s points in today’s Epistle was that if he, the previous Chief Persecutor of the church could be saved by Jesus that option was available to each of us.  Anybody who is able and willing to can be saved by Jesus. They just need to repent and turn back to Him. All we need to do is repent and follow.  Thus, we need to Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way towards Christ and God’s grace.

It is a simple concept that people do not want to comprehend. As I have mentioned in some of my past sermons, people just do not want the easy answer. They want somehow a more complicated, more convoluted answer that they can get around. This simple answer is one that we cannot get around in a Pharisee manner, no how hard we try. Believe in God, the Holy Ghost, Lord Jesus, repent, spread the Gospel and live the life of the New Man, using Paul phraseology. This is what it boils down to and what most people do not want to hear. We are to spread this News anyway, and if it is rejected, shake the dust off of our feet and move on. We cannot and should not force this message on anybody.

The other point is that Jesus is real, He is Who He says He IS.  He is not a fictional character, he is not a great teacher.  He is THE SON OF GOD and He came to save us: body, heart, mind and soul.  There is no other way to view Him that makes as perfect sense as this[2]. Just as we are real sinners, He is a real Savior. You cannot have the Holy Spirit within you and say that He is not the Son of God. Likewise, you cannot say He is the Son of God without the Holy Ghost in you.

If that is not enough to turn your heart, consider the parable of the publican and the Pharisee related by Saint Luke.  The man who was proud of his performance was not the example Jesus chose for the one justified, rather the one who acknowledged his failures and asked God for forgiveness and help. Think of these examples and who would we rather be like, the publican, or the Pharisee?  Remember, the Pharisee’s job consisted of finding clever ways around the 613 Mosaic Laws.  The publican was looking for help in actually following two: 

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.

T
HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.    BCP Page 69

And, just as importantly, he was not looking for ways around those two laws, he was looking for help to follow God and forgiveness when he fell short.  

Let us ask God for the help we need to follow His Will.  For we must have His Help to act as we must here on earth!

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them.  

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] Though Paul was writing to the people of Corinth, the information is just as applicable to us, perhaps more so now than ever before.
[2] This is the Trilemma of Jack Lewis in Mere Christianity - I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tenth 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 tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together.

Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God to give us … be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee …

Once again, this Collect is kind of a follow-on to last week’s Collect.  First, we ask God to hear our prayers, this is funny in that He always listens intently to us when we pray and we very seldom listen to Him when He answers.  It is an odd paradox, He listens but we never seem to listen.  It seems as if at times we should pray that we should listen not Him, as He always listens! Nonetheless, we ask His help to ask for those things we need, not those things we want and are bad for us.  We need to be humble when we ask.  What does that word mean?  According to the dictionary, to be HUMBLE means to be:

·      Modest
·      Respectful
·      Lowly

Modest - unassuming in attitude and behavior
Respectful - feeling or showing respect and deference toward other people
Lowly - relatively low in rank and without pretensions

These are three characteristics that we do not possess in our natural, sinful state. We however can obtain these through asking the Holy Ghost to bring these attitudes into our hearts, souls and minds.  And not just asking, but we have to be willing to listen to what He says we should change within our lives. We cannot change what is our station in life, but we can change our attitude towards God.  He is God, we are not.  We are His creatures, imperfect with free will.  We must recognize that when we ask for His Help.  We badly need the guidance from the Holy Ghost so we can ask for what we need, instead of what we want.  NEED and WANT are two four letter words that are used too oft interchangeably that do not mean the same thing. People often use these four letter words erroneously, thinking they mean the same thing. They do not and cannot. Needs are vital for our spiritual health as well as physical health. Wants are nice things to have, but they are not vital for us to survive. When we think we “NEED” something, we have to ask if it fits the above definition “Is this vital for our ministry/life here on earth, or is it something just nice to have, but not a critical item?” We have to see if what we need is something we truly need, or just a want. Too many people do not perform this need analysis and as a result suffer for it physically and spiritually.

While our needs must be fulfilled, there is nothing wrong with wanting, just so long as you want things that are good for you. And as long as your want does not turn into coveting or wanting people’s stuff without being willing to work for it. We have to carefully monitor our wants and make sure that they are good for us and that we are wanting to work for whatever it is that we want.  Once again, we are asking God to help us to want the right things that will be good for us and help us develop in our Christian lives. Paul reminds us though each believer is different, throughout all the believing peoples of the Church the same God, the same Spirit, the same Christ works all in all and through all His work is done and accomplished. When we are setting off to do work for the church, we have to keep in mind that those believers we serve and help believe in the same God we do, and they are filled with the same spirit.

Paul reminds us we each have differing talents, but if we use them to the Glory of God, without concern for who gets the credit, all will be well. I can think of no finer example of this than the Marines serving on Peleliu with Eugene Sledge, in the 3rd Batallion/5th Marines.  I was reading his memoir, With the Old Breed, when I realized in my reading, none of the Marines he served with cared a bit who got a credit, all they cared about was helping their fellow Marines accomplish the objective. They didn’t do what they felt like, at least not the good ones. They did what was right without thought as to who would get the credit. Their main thoughts were to work as a team to defeat the Japanese. We must work in the same manner with our fellow Christians, using each of our talents to further His work and to defeat the forces of Satan. God has given us all each unique talents to be used to further His Mission. Together, our talents can help us as the Body of Christ serve and glorify Him on Earth. 

Do what you can, not what you feel like. Ignore what you feel like doing and do what God wants you to do. We will profit from doing what God wants more than if we did what we just felt like doing. This is hard for us to grasp, but it will help us in the long term if we do what He asks, instead of doing what we want. What we feel like doing often does not align with what God wants for us, which can result in negative consequences for us. However, if we do what He wants for us, there will be positive consequences. It is a simple message, yet one that can be hard to swallow sometimes, but it is a message that must be swallowed all the same. 

If you will but read the Bible, what God wants you to do will be clear.  If you do your best to do His Will all will be well with you.  Death is a pretty hollow threat if you do your duty. If you have done your best, that is at the end of the day, you have done your best to follow Him, then truly you have nothing to fear. The people of Jerusalem would not have been in the pickle they got in when 70AD came along, had they only done what God wanted.  But, it was too hard for them.  These were of course the descendants of the people who defied God in the wilderness for 40 years, they were a stubborn and stiff-necked people. They were blinded by their stubbornness to change. They could not see what God wanted for them or now for us.  In 70AD, what had been so hard seemed pretty easy compared to the fix they were in, but by then it was too late.  By that time they were left with only “There are none so poor as cannot purchase a noble death.”  But, for most of them by that time they had no will.  It left when they failed to follow God’s Will. 

It is an object lesson for us, to do what we can in the here and now and not worry about tomorrow. And also we shouldn’t complain if it is too hard for us, because being on God’s side, nothing is too hard for us. We should ignore these thoughts and turn our attentions to what God wants for us. We must learn from the past mistakes of our spiritual forebears and resolve not to repeat those same mistakes. If we are ignorant of our spiritual past, we are doomed to make those very same mistakes.

When Luke wrote of the sales in the temple, he had a point.  The point was not to preclude jumble sales at church.  He was not abhorring the sales, but the cheating in the name of God.   This Gospel does literally preclude cheating people at those jumble sales!  You must understand the temple hawkers were selling perfect defective “sacrificial lambs” which would be recycled over and over[1].  In their very successful effort to make money they were defrauding the people and insulting God in His own House.  It should also be pointed out that a church should be a place of worship.  It may be a Prophet Center, but not a Profit Center[2].  Similar sounding words, but a totally different meaning for the church.  If the building needs constant commercial enterprise, then perhaps the emphasis is on the wrong center. All of these churches that emphasize quantity over quality should be suspect. It does not matter the quantity, as long as you have a base of quality believers that serve the One Triune God. We need to be concerned more about the spreading of His Word, the constant truth, then focusing on how many people we can attract, and how the message can be changed to suit them. These are both problems with the modern churches today. A church should be funded for its needs by its members and its wants should come much later, if not in fact unheeded.  A church is about Him, not about IT. It should not be a self-licking ice cream cone, but a center to help the believers walk in Christ, not focusing on physical and material plant on earth, but on helping us on our own “Pilgrim’s Progress” towards heaven. If it focuses on anything but that, it is a stumbling block to believers.  We are not called to be a stumbling block, but to be guides, to be lanterns shining in the darkness, to be as a light cloud amidst the darkness of this world.

Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it.  That is duty.  It does not matter how you “feel” about black or white.  Black is black; White is white.  Do your duty. Work as hard as you can, do the best you can, trust in the Lord.  By the way, cheat no one.  If you follow that, you won’t need to be told, “Particularly in God’s House.”

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them.  

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] The concept of being truthful in the efforts we make to spread The Word is not a separate subject by any means, but would take more time to talk about than we have time for here.  Suffice it to say that we must take every care to spread The Truth and not what our audience, whoever that may be, would like to hear.  When we bring our “sacrifice” to the “temple” we need make certain it is in fact as perfect as we can make it.  This is so hard that one of the recurring themes of the Collects is asking for guidance to ask for the right things.
[2] A term I first heard from Bishop Dennis Campbell in 2011.  It was a great thought then and a great thought now!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ninth Sunday after Trinity


If you enjoyed this, you can read the entire
AOC Sunday Report RIGHT HERE!
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Epistle and Gospel together talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction, the general content is in forewords above.

Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God to give us … the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will …

This is kind of a follow-on to last week’s Collect.  We are asking God to give us direction that we might know right from wrong and follow the right way.  If we listen to our hearts and minds, like the aviator, mariner or adventurer without a compass, we will soon be hopelessly lost.  With the compass God gives us, we can find the One True Way, much like the compass always points North.

The Collect acknowledges that without God’s intervention through the Holy Spirit in our lives we cannot do anything that is good or right. Indeed, our own very natures prevent us from doing what is right.  Our nature is inclined towards being away from God, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can reset our nature to be towards God. We just have to ask for His help and not just ask for it, but willingly receive it.  By receiving, I mean that we have to be willing and ready listeners, ready to listen to what He wants us to do, and then act upon that. We have to have His will be our will. We have to put aside what we want to do, and put what God wants us to do in the forefront. This is a very difficult matter, a concept we have always struggled with.

This is nothing new.  As Paul reminds us we have a common spiritual past, regardless of our actual lineage.  Spiritually, we are descended from the Jews of the Exodus.  Their God is our God; God directed their actions.  He was a Trinity then as He is today.  Their reality is our reality, whether we choose to understand or accept it. Our forefathers drank of “the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”  We are like them in that we stubbornly, due to our own nature, resits His will. We murmur and grumble, when in fact we should be praising Our Father Almighty. We are also like them, in that if we do not look up to Him who was lifted up on the cross, like Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, we will perish. However, if we will look up to Him who was crucified on the cross, and believe on Him and his name, we shall be saved. 

Those who have gone before provide examples, both good and bad. We should aspire to follow the good examples of those who have gone before and not the bad examples that they have left behind. In this letter Paul addresses the bad and suggests we should see what their ill behavior gained them before we set our course and not after.  We should not strive to emulate the murmurings of the people, though we may feel that way sometimes, as we can learn from their bad examples.  We must see their bad examples and do not emulate those; on the other side, we must see the good examples, and strive to emulate them.

Following after the Jews, we should strive to not incorporate those bad examples, but the good examples into our lives. And, lest we think ourselves ever so special, he reminds us we are subjected to no special temptations, only those “as is common to man.”  Every man on this planet is a sinner who desperately needs help, every bit as much as the next, albeit likely in differing ways.  In sin, all are equally lost to death, unless they accept the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Which is to say, common to everybody within the human race who is not Christ, which is all of us. This is another example of the adage, “Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.”  It is an old saw, but one as valid today as the first time it was used.  

That is a reason the Old Testament should be read and reviewed and compared to the New Testament, to see where we came from, how we got here and where we should go next. It works like a process flowchart, from the beginning from Adam, down through the various figures of the Old Testament, the flowchart ends at the arrival of Christ and the Holy Ghost, and in our redemption. Analyzing this flowchart, we can see our temptations and sins are nothing new, and sins are a waste of our spiritual life. We must practice continuous improvement, kaizen as the Japanese called it, and or total quality management of our spiritual life.

Just like total quality management requires each and every member of the organization work together to achieve quality and serve the needs of the customer, so too, do the Scriptures require all believers work together, to serve the needs of those we serve, namely other believers and the Church. We must continuously improve ourselves in our day to day lives, not just in the church, but in our businesses and personal lives. This is the message Paul is conveying to Corinthians, that we must see how our forefathers acted, emulate their good qualities and dispose of the wasteful, bad, sinful qualities.   We must continually improve upon ourselves throughout our lives. We must continually work on improving our bad qualities and making them into good qualities. Only God, the Holy Spirit, and Christ can really provide us the spiritual guidance we need to do this. We must trust that they will give us the correct guidance when needed. 

Speaking of lessons, when Saint Luke recounts the story of the prodigal son we oft think ourselves as that prodigal one returning to God so late in life.  Yet there is far more to be learned than the titular son.

Consider the two sons.  The older is a wonderful young man who strives to please his father in everything he does.  The younger son asks for his inheritance, now rather than later, and sets off to spend it wastefully in a far off land.  In dire straits, he decides to go home to his father and beg to be allowed to live as one of his servants.  He decides to tell his father, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son…”  Before he can get the words out of his mouth, his father welcomes him, gives him new clothing and calls the servants to prepare a fatted calf for a big party.  The elder son is very angry and hurt.  He asks his father what he did wrong; he followed his instructions every day to the best of his ability, worked hard, and yet his father had never even given a small party for him.  The father answered, saying, “Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”   “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost and is found.”  

This story, like that of the workers in the vineyard has a number of meanings.  Like the father in the story, God wants us to be His faithful child, but rejoices when we return to Him.  Like the prodigal son, we should be grateful to live long enough to return to Him.  We should recognize when we have erred and strayed from our ways like lost sheep; as soon as we recognize that, we should immediately return to Our Lord in prayer, asking for His forgiveness.  Like the father in the story, our Lord will warmly welcome us back with open arms. 

The moral of the younger son’s story is that God is always waiting for us, and if we are not too late, we can always return to Him.  Today preferably rather than tomorrow! He will always accept us with opening arms, but we must make sure it is not too late. Don’t wait until you die! If you feel you have erred and strayed, repent now! Do not put off until tomorrow your repentance. If you are led by the Holy Spirit to repent, please do it today, you may not live to see tomorrow. 

Do not let the sun go down on your sins and wrath, you may not live to see another day! On the other hand, consider the oldest son, let us learn from his mistake and be joyful when our brothers and sisters come home to our family. Let us put aside the anger and jealousy and replace those hurtful emotions with the emotions of pure love and joy! Let us join in the celebration and not begrudge the fatted calf.  We should not be jealous or angry when our long lost brethren return to the flock of Christ! We should be merry and joyful they have returned to us! Do not let your pride become anger and cloud your emotions like it does so many of us. But, rather see a sinner coming back into His flock and rejoice in he is no longer headed towards The Pit! 

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them.  

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, July 17, 2016

Eighth Sunday after Trinity

If you enjoyed this, you can read the entire
AOC Sunday Report 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 the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God who … ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; … to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us …

We must understand in our hearts that God does indeed “ordereth all things” here as well as in heaven.  Once we understand that, then we can ask Him to keep us away from those things hurtful to us and incline our hearts towards those things that are good for us.  This is one of the many things for which we need the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in our hearts.  Without His Help, we cannot recognize the help we need.  We tend to think of ourselves as perfectable by our own work, without the need to depend on others (Him).  The problem is, it does not work.  And it cannot ever work this way. If it did work this way, then God would not have sent His Son Jesus to come down and die for our sins and account us as perfect. And yet, we cannot seem to figure this out on our own.  To try what clearly does not work over and over again, is the very definition of insanity. On the other hand, if we look to God for help, for guidance, for direction, for course correction, for strength, for structure, for the ability to persevere, there is nothing that must be done that cannot be done.

In other words, on our own we cannot do anything that works, but with God’s help, we can do things that work!  It is not because of us, that we can do things that work, but because God is acting within us with the help of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is key to following God here on Earth. He is our lifeline to salvation, giving us the resources that we need to be able to follow His Will. He can help us put aside our fears, worries, concerns and do what we need to do. It may not necessarily be what we want to do, but in the end, it is better than anything we could want to do. God asks only that we do our very best.  By the way, do not confuse saying you are doing your best with actually doing it. There is a difference between words and actions!

The difference lies in what our actions convey. Do our actions convey faith or disbelief? If we are true followers of Christ, then our actions will convey faith. If we are not of Christ, our actions will convey unbelief. I know what I want my actions to convey, do you? Our faith means nothing, if it is not evident in our actions. We would then not have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ within us, who saves us. It is not our faith that saves us, but Him who rose and died for our sins. It is the faith of Jesus Christ that has saved us and not our own faith. Our own faith did not account us as perfect, His Faith, by dying on the cross for our sins did.  Let us not confuse our faith, with His Faith that saved us, by His Actions.

He acted for us and not only talked the talk as it were, but walked the walk as well. He cannot be truly within us unless we ask for Him to come in and help guide our actions. We cannot buy our way into heaven, nor any other way we can think of will get us into heaven, but the way that God provided for us, will get us into heaven, that of His Son Jesus Christ, who was sent to die for our sins that we would have eternal life, to all that believe upon His name. BELIEVE, is the key word. To truly BELIEVE, you must act in a Christly manner, believe that He died for our sins, and to live out the faith as preached by Him.  If you do not believe any one of the tenants of the Nicene Creed, then you cannot be considered a Christian, for all of the elements necessary to be a Christian are consolidated into the Creed. It summarizes the story of the Gospel into a Creed that we acknowledge and believe. It summarizes it into a creed that we Christians are called to follow, believe and spread through the world. We are not called to just mindlessly repeat this creed, but we are to truly think upon each point in the Creed, and think about what it means for us and our salvation, and act upon this Creed.

There are 66 books in the Bible, of those 27 are in the New Testament, of those Saint Paul wrote 13, almost half!  More than anyone.  Paul gives much of the guidance and direction we call The Word of God.  Yet, his message is very simple.  People claim to find it hard to grasp, which mostly means they don’t want to hear it.  If they truly did want to hear it, they would not offer up those excuses! Today, Paul tells us, much like last week, that if we are of this world, we die of this world. Pretty simple message, right? Yet if we will accept our adoption by God, we will be entitled to call Him Abba, or Daddy.  We have been emancipated from the bondage of sin and are now freemen under the promise of eternal life.

What a wonderful gift this is. We are no more beholden to sin, no more under the eternal debt of sin, but we have been freed from that terrible master Death, and now we have a absolutely perfect master in God. He truly is the most perfect master for us, better than we could be of ourselves. Which is why we are truly not worthy of being a master of another human and why slavery has never truly worked. We ourselves were in slave to sin, and in no condition to be a master of anyone. For that was why we were in the bondage of the sin prior to the coming of Christ. We humans, both Gentiles and Jews, could not overcome that most terrible and natural malady of sin. But God came up with the perfect way, the One Way, His Son Jesus Christ to die for us that we might gain a bridge between this earth and life eternal.

In order for us to truly be adopted, we have to be willing to follow Him and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, here on earth, for better or for worse, in times good and in bad, and never give up, never give in and always focusing our minds on how we can best serve Him. To truly show we are adopted Sons and Daughters of God, we must be willing to act in a manner worthy of this adoption. We will fail at times, that is true, but the key is that we always return to Our Lord, ask for His forgiveness, and start again a new, acting in a manner worthy of being adopted Sons and Daughters of the Great High King, God the Father Almighty.

For, if we are His children, then we gain His Birthright and all resulting from that status. Again, this is simple, but following as His Children can be a fairly difficult task, if we try to do things without His guidance it will not go as well. Actually, without His Guidance, we cannot do anything that is great or worthy. But with His Guidance, we can do all things! While we may have some cause for suffering here on earth, the resultant glory will all be well worth it.  The problem with this is that while we are all willing to suffer (just not today) we are so often not willing to put off what we want to do now for what God wants us to do.  We justify doing what we want, while ignoring what God clearly told us He Wants.  We look for people who claim authority who will tell us what we want to hear. 

We need to realize if we put off what we need to do now, in the future it will make things for us here harder.  So if we do what we need to do today, we will have the satisfaction of doing what He wants for us today and not having put it off until tomorrow which will never come for us. Once again, it is what we want, not what He Wants. What He wants will ultimately result in our salvation, what we want will ultimately result in our eternal damnation.  I know which way I want to go, do you?

That leads right in to the point Jesus said in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew when He Tells us to take great care in who we choose to follow. There are many today who seem to say the right things, but do the other. We must focus on their actions and see how it matches their spoken claims.

There are far too many so called ministers out there saying what  at first glance appears to be the right thing, but in reality their actions do not show they believe. To paraphrase scripture, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. In the case of individuals like Creflo Dollar, we can see that his treasure is in mammon wealth of this world and His heart is not set on following God.  This duplicitous nature is not becoming of those who would be ministers of God.

Therefore, those men cannot be true ministers of God, but must be false prophets. Scripture has been given to provide an unchanging standard against which we should judge the words and actions of those who would lead us towards God.  Jesus tells us to listen to those who preach of the Gospel and discard the words of those whose teachings are not congruent with The Word.    To quote President Reagan, “Trust, but verify.”  Does what the person say match with The Word? 

We all have Bibles, most the Authorized Version.  Does what the person preach match what God has said?  Does their life live that talk? We do not want to follow people that produce evil, corrupted fruit, but good and plentiful and delicious fruit! A good tree will not bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot ever bear good fruit! So is it with our actions, if we truly do our best to follow Him, our actions will produce good fruit; if we don’t, we will produce bad fruit.

Actually, that brings us to another point, does the Bible you use match the real Word of God.  It is not the grammar or style that counts, but the facts, the points, the real message of Scripture.  The Authorized Version comes from the Received Text and is reliable.  Make certain the version you use loses nothing in the translation. The modern versions use corrupted manuscripts omitting a large number of verses that corrupt the message of the New Testament, and in the case of John 3:16 for example, dilute Jesus Christ’s status as the only begotten son of God. The newer Bibles also are copyrighted so “Man” owns it, and not the author of Scripture, God our Father. In this case, these newer Bibles are not Bibles at all, but doctrine books of men set on not following Scripture.

So once you let the Holy Ghost into your heart, then take the direction He Offers, read and understand Scripture, you will know what you are supposed to do.  Then, you need to actually act on that knowledge.

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them. 

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