Verse of the Day

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Twenty-Fourth 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. 

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity
The Collect.
O
 LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Consider these words from the Collect, … absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. …

The Collect asks God to pardon our offences, that is our wrongs, failures and failures to act as we should, where we have “erred and stray from His Way like lost sheep”, through His great mercy.  Note, through the mercy of God, not because we have been good, but because we cannot be good without Him in the form of the Holy Ghost.  Without His Light, we are darkness.  This is yet another common theme running through all of the collects. The theme is simple. We need Him to deliver us from the multitudes of sins, by which our frail nature of ungodliness, we have committed.  Each day we find new ways to sin, or at least we think that until we find in fact there is no new thing under the sun.(Ecclesiastes 1:9) 

Truly there is nothing new.  There are no new sins to be invented, to paraphrase the scripture quote from Ecclesiastes. The human heart is always as dark and depraved without the shining light of the Holy Spirit as it ever has been. It has been this way since the time of Adam. People are always seeking ways to get around God and His Laws, but they truly cannot. Our only hope is to be in Him and be reborn in the Spirit. As Abraham Lincoln said in the famous Gettysburg address “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.”  Only under God, can we be reborn a new, and as he said, our freedom will be reborn again.  We can only be reborn in the spirit and not the flesh as Nicodemus found out when he came to Jesus by night. In order to be reborn a new in the spirit, we first have to ask for our sins to be pardoned and be delivered from our sins by Jesus Christ Our Lord and Our Heavenly Father.  The key word is ask. This will never happen for us if we do not take the first step and ask God to enter into our hearts and regenerate our spirit. He will not come in uninvited into to our hearts. We have to allow the Holy Spirit access in order for our spirits to be revitalized.

And once we ask for our sins to be pardoned, we have to go forth and persevere in our efforts not to sin again. Only then can we be truly re-born. Through a sense of godliness, we obtain that “new birth” of freedom. If everybody in this country followed that simple advice, just think of how great our country would be. Look at Abraham Lincoln for an example of a Godly man, one of the greatest Presidents ever elected, who by following God and His Word, helped preserve the Union of this wonderful nation, albeit at a great cost to our freedom and with a huge expansion of government[1].

In the Epistle, Paul tells the Colossians if we are to be reborn through Christ into a “new birth of freedom”, as Lincoln said, we must place our hope not on Earth, but in Our Heavenly Father and his abode above. 

Unlike earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and thieves break through and steal, in heaven, we shall encounter none of that. We shall encounter none of the imperfections we see here on Earth daily. It is truly a wonderful place to be. We must keep our sights on our destination of heaven. We have to always keep this in mind every time we are weighed down by the woes of the world and of troubles in our lives. We have to always keep flying our spiritual airplane no matter what happens in this life. If we put our goal as going to heaven and setting our airplane on the magenta line towards heaven, eventually we will get there. We may encounter severe turbulence from events in our lives that threaten to upset our spiritual state, but as long as we keep flying the spiritual airplane, all will be well in the end. Heaven is truly the only place where we can place any hope and not be disappointed. God will never fail us; we just need to not fail Him. We have to do our best to follow Him here on earth and do our best to spread to Word to the people around us. If we do this, the truth shall shine forth through in our work, at home, in our daily lives and people shall see Christ working through us for His purposes. If we follow what God asks, which is a very common theme in the Bible, as it is in my sermons, we prosper and do well.

Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ heals a woman who has such supreme faith in Christ healing her, that if she but touches his cloak, she knows she will be healed. She did not have any doubts about Christ’s power to heal her. She truly had a solid faith. She depended not on the talisman of the cloak, but the power of Christ with which she expected to connect. She knew Christ had the power to heal her and believed He wouldheal her. Christ was impressed by the woman’s faith.  If we had the faith of this woman in Christ, imagine how we could impact the world around us. There would be little we could not do for our fellow men and women.  And, I might ask, what is stopping us?  The ruler whose daughter had died also shared this amazing faith in Christ.  He had zero doubt whatsoever Christ would do these things. 

Also, the faithful centurion and the man whose son was sick had this tremendous faith. The faith of all of these, in particular the ruler whose daughter died was truly strong. Christ recognizes this man’s faith and rewards with the girl’s resurrection.  Quite a surprise for those who had just laughed and scorned him, basically telling him “That is impossible, you can’t raise the girl from the dead.”

He proved them wrong.  He gave a very practical demonstration that much is denied men, but though God all things are possible.  But, we need the faith of the woman, the faith of the ruler and the faith of the centurion.  We must follow Him and the plan He laid out for us. We have to be willing to listen and be ready to follow Him.  In time, we shall too have an amazing reward, through our faith and we shall be in a “new birth of freedom” from otherwise certain death. We can do things thought impossible, if we put our trust in Him, as I have aforementioned.  

This is what Jesus meant when he said we could move mountains with our faith. If we put our trust and faith in Him, nothing that we need to do is impossible for us to achieve. We must keep listening to His Guidance and to do our best to follow Him.

Works must follow faith however. We cannot have a full faith, unless we act to demonstrate the faith. Faith is demonstrated through our actions, and our Lord set this in His Example for us to follow. 

Jesus’s miracles were all about actions, not just in word, but in deed. He did both, as we must also. If we only talk the talk, but do not walk our talk, then our words mean nothing.  If we walk the walk also, our words have weight, meaning, as we become men and women of the Word. I say of the Word and not like the old saying, he is a man of his word. For we want to become a Man/Woman of His Word, not our word! If we go by His Word, we can never go wrong. We always seem to go on our word and that is where we get into trouble. It is action not just diction which counts. The two can go together, but in the end, actions speak louder than words. 

Following this theme of words and action as today is Veteran’s Day, I realized God has used godly men for our freedom to be kept, by laying down their lives for ours. No greater love could be found in the world, then those men who died in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, the Pacific and the European theatres of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert 1 and 2, Afghanistan and countless dirty little wars where the freedom of our country and that others was threatened.

Through a sense of godliness, these men went to battle on our behalf, as Christ battled Satan on our behalf.  These men did not just go into battle with the godliness, they prayed hard for them, they prayed for each minute just to stay alive, especially in the hellholes of the Pacific and the European theaters.  The danger they faced were far more perilous than the ones we face today.  We overcame the enemy, not only because of our superior tactics, but we had men ready and willing to take the enemy on and do our best to prevail, and who followed God.

The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately.  We have to have faith in Christ and God, and be willing to accept the Holy Ghost into us, that through Him, we may do good works on Earth and that we will receive our just reward for doing what is right in the end.

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 American Civil War was fought not over slavery, but over States Rights.  Make no mistake, the right being disputed at the time was slavery.  Many will say the wrong side won, including the noted thinker Thomas Sowell.  Slavery was an institution whose time was long passed, it did not serve anyone, master or slave.  It was counter to the Word and should never have existed here.  Truly it was an instrument of the Devil and was used to harm our country.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity


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

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity
The Collect.


O
 GOD,our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be readywe 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 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, Paul tells us, as well as the Philippians, to follow God and not be dependent on man, as so many in this country are now. The problem is many, who claim they are followers of Christ, don’t walk the walk, they are selfish and only think of themselves. There are too many people around the world who 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 must realize our true and final 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 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 must first destroy 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 own 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 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 take money from other people ostensibly for 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