Verse of the Day

Sunday, December 2, 2018

First Sunday in Advent

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

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

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

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

Today’s Collect, like almost all of them, starts out asking God’s Grace, His Help, His [1], but meek and lowly, to embrace light and cast off the works of darkness.  We have to let go of our pride in order to be humble and be able to cast off the works of darkness. Though He came in a rather humble manner, He shall return in a glorious and majestic manner, a rather stark contrast to His original incarnation, leaving no doubt who has come to lead us.   Consider also that when Jesus came into this world, He knew precisely how He would leave and the pain and suffering it would entail. There was no way to justify in His mind that while there would be 99 percent casualties, it would not be Him. He knew exactly what would happen, yet He came anyway.  He came for us.  He came that we might not have just eternal existence, but eternal life and freedom.

intervention to allow us to turn our backs on evil and our own desires that we might make His Desire our desire. This theme is constant through ought most of the collects for the simple reason that it is truth.  And it is the truth that without God’s intervention in our lives through the help of the Holy Ghost we are doomed to fail. If you will understand how much we fall short in our “natural” desire, you will understand that to cast off the works of darkness and don the armour of light, we must turn to Christ, who came to visit us, born in a simple and humble inn in Bethlehem.  As His manner of birth, we must be humble as well, not boastful and proud like the rich

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

This point brings us straight to the Epistle. Paul tells us we need to live the life we aspire to.  He wastes little time on the don’ts which the Jews were famous for getting around, but goes right to the dos; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. When you accept that as your guide, you just don’t need the don’ts.

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

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

“Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

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

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday next before Advent

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

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

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

Jeremiah prophesies the coming of Jesus out of the branch of David that He might unite God’s people as one under a New Covenant. Christ is the key piece to the puzzle of the Old Testament prophecies. He is the answer to all of the prophecies the Old Testament contains about our savior. He is the Messiah who is prophesied by the prophets in the Old Testament.  John tells us Jesus comes to fill both our spiritual and physical hunger. Our spiritual hunger in that by His Coming, we will have the Word as our spiritual bread and drink. And our physical hunger by the fact if we follow what He says and do our best, we should have no problems getting food to eat. The collect aska God to stir up our will that we might be concentrating on performing good works for Him and noting that through those actions we will be plenteously rewarded. The spiritual food and drink Jesus gives will be more filling to our souls than the lembas bread from Lord of the Rings, it will sustain us on our spiritual journeys here on earth and guide us on that narrow and upward path towards heaven. We just have to let Him into our hearts and provide us with that nourishment.

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

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

Nothing else in this world will satisfy us like God and the Word of God can. He is the answer to the missing hole in so many people’s hearts and lives.  No art or work of mammon can come even close to the pure satisfaction following God provides. This is the only possible way we can truly be satisfied, everything else is a shadow of true happiness and satisfaction. God is the only way in which we can truly be happy, for everything else is worthless to our wellbeing, except for the joy of following Him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity

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

The Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity
The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
The Collect.

OD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen

The Collect reminds us Jesus was sent to destroy the works of the devil in us so we might be accounted as perfect at the final tally point allowing us, with the Holy Ghost’s help, make ourselves act more like Him, less like we want. This collect reveals His Purpose, to redeem us so we could have everlasting life and spend our eternity with our Creator in eternal light. 

The Epistle reminds us we have to choose a side and so does the Gospel, if we choose the way of sin, we are on the Devil’s side. It is reminding us that we cannot serve two masters. We are either on God’s side or on Satan’s side. There are only two sides in this matter and there is no in between ground that we can stay in. The Epistle also says that you can tell who a man serves by his actions. A righteous man will perform righteous actions and is on God’s side. A sinful man will commit sinful actions and is on Satan’s side. It follows the Scripture verse where a man’s treasure is there will his heart be also. If our treasure is in heaven, our heart will lead us there. If our treasure is mammonly things, then our heart will lead us towards the pit.

For us, the choice is pretty clear. It is to follow God and His Word to the best of our abilities and to spread it through ought the whole wide world. For the other way is clearly an unpleasant alternative, permanent separation from God. Whereas following God will bring us closer to our Creator for all eternity, which is the most pleasant existence after death one can imagine. In fact, due to our feeble minds and bodies, we cannot comprehend how wonderful it will be to spend eternity with God and our fellow believers.

The Gospel and the Epistle both tell us those who follow God to the best of their abilities, which manifests itself in good works, are on God’s side, while those who follow themselves and fall into temptation are on Satan’s side.  Clearly it is an easy choice to see who we shouldfollow. It is harder in practice to remain on the course; but with God and the Holy Spirit guiding us, we should be able to remain on a constant path towards eternal life.

We cannot be on the side of the Devil, if we want eternal life.  So, what path should we take if we wish to inherit eternal life?  We read the Word of God, and take it as a whole to our life, not just one really nice verse we like, but we must take it as a whole.  It is all about the big picture and not just the little itty bitty part of Scripture that we pick up on. Otherwise we become like many so called “theologians”, debating the meaning of one verse and how it applies to their “theology.” When the only theology we should be concerned about is reading Scripture and following Christ and his principles and applying it to our lives. Too many people subscribe to various theological theories such as Calvinism, Zwigiliism, etc., and lose sight of the fact those men ultimately would choose to be known as “Christians” or followers of Christ and not Calvinists, Cramnarians, etc. If they were known as those then, then they would be followers of the Devil and not of God. So, let us be careful when we read Scripture we are taking in as a whole and not just a part.

Saint John points out in his Epistle that Christ was brought down here to take away the stain of our sin which prevents us from entering into heaven. He points out to actually turn over a new leaf, we need to do as Christ counsels and do our best to go forth and sin no more. We need to perform the actions that align with our stated belief. If we say we are a Christian; that means we have to hold fast to Christ’s principles. But if we say we are a Christian and go out and rob a bank or be thoughtlessly cruel to our neighbor, then John points out we cannot really be a Christian, for we are not holding to Christ’s principles. We would be in fact rejecting Him by our actions. As I often say in my sermons, actions speak louder than words. So, we need to do our best to align our actions with what Christ teaches in Scripture.

The unifying theme of the Gospel, Collect and Epistle is there are two sides in this spiritual conflict and the right light side will defeat the dark evil side in the end. Which side do you want to be on, eternal life or that of eternal death?  The side of good is eternal life and the side of evil and Satan of eternal death. There may not be as many short term gain in Good, but if we perform a cost-benefit analysis, the CBA suggests the side of God, of goodness, of light is the best in the long term, which is what the Bible is all about, planning for the long term.

If we focus on the short term, doing what is easy, rather than righteous, we shall find ourselves shorted, in a loss, rather than a profit. Our liabilities will be more than our assets. But, if we choose the side of righteousness, then, we shall be able to have more assets then liabilities and be profitable, not in a financial sense, but rather in the spiritual sense.

So, to sum up the lessons we have learned; we are pitifully weak creatures, with free will. There may well be a form of predestination; but the key is, we are free to choose God or Satan. It lies upon us to choose the fork in the road. One will lead to goodness, like cherry pie, and the other will lead to coal. Which do we want to choose?

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 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.
 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.

 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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

Saints Simon and Jude
The two Apostles went to evangelize Armenia and Persia, and they were murdered in the city of Suanir in 47, Anno Domini.

Saint Simon was also called Simon the Zealot, probably because he had been a member of the nationalist party of Zealots who refused to recognize any foreign yoke over Palestine. Zealots were those who had a especial zeal for the independence of the Palestine, that is, they did not want the Holy Land to fall into the hands of any pagans whatsoever. Since the Zealot cause had some good points – commendable in some aspects – it is understandable the Lord recruited one of His Apostles from its numbers.

The mother of Saint Jude was Mary Cleophas, a sister-in-law of the Virgin Mary, stood with her  by the Cross of Jesus on Calvary. His father was Cleophas [Clopas or Alpheo in Aramaic], a brother of Saint Joseph.  Therefore, he was the legal cousin of Jesus. Jude was one of those his fellow countrymen called a “brother” of the Son of the Carpenter, because it was a custom among the Jews at that time to call cousins brothers. He wrote an epistle to combat the Gnostic heresy, which was just beginning to appear. 

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.  

Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles. [October 28.]

The Collect.

ALMIGHTYGod, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

 RANT, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect says that we must have the Lord’s pardon and peace, but we have to ask for it before we have it. If we don’t ask for it, we don’t get. Like the old Cowboy saying “If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat.”, which the basics of is covered in another letter of Paul’s to Timothy. In this case it is “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”, so we ask Him we might have the willingness to ask and receive His pardon and peace.

The Collect for St. Simon and Saint Jude mentions that Jesus Christ is the head corner stone. They are referring to He is the main foundation rock for the Christian Church in that all of the principles of Christianity are derived from Him. The Summary of the Law is an excellent example of showing that Jesus is our chief cornerstone.  It also asks that God might grant that we might be joined together spiritually with the theology of Jesus that the Apostles followed two millennia ago.

It makes the point we should share their same faith of Jesus Christ being our Savior, Mediator and advocate. It is asking for us to receive that same zealous spirit the Apostles had in following Him, that we might be a follow their good examples in following Jesus.

The second part of the collect says that we might be made an holy temple acceptable to God. Meaning we must be cleansed of our impurity and the Holy Spirit might enter to cleanse our souls, so they might be acceptable to God. This is a process that like many others in Christianity will take the rest of our earthly lives to work on. Like being a good pilot, we should always be learning in our spiritual lives.

Being a good learner involves being willing to face your mistakes and make the needed corrections. This applies to flying, work and your spiritual life as well. We have to be good learners, to make our bodies an acceptable temple to God.

In the Epistle, Paul exhorts us to act, following Christ as the “Chief Cornerstone”, or the Head Bishop of the Church, with us following under His Orders, as he is our Commanding General. And he tells us that we must not only think like Christians, but the key word is Act. If we do not act upon our thoughts and words, how are we any better than those who went before the Christians, like the Jews of old, who said one thing and clearly did another. And in His message, and understanding it, with the Gospel’s message also that we, no matter how tough it may be to do it sometimes, we must follow His will rather than ours, and we may not be loved or liked by the world for it.

Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ warns the Apostles that this won’t be an easy milk-run, rather it will turn dangerous and they have to face the choice between the World and life on Earth, or death and Life in Christ and God eternally. He tells them they will face many persecutions for His sake, and they will be rewarded in time, for the trials and tribulations they suffer in His name.

Christ also explains that had he not come and talked to the evildoers, that they would freely be able to deceive us, but now that He has come and revealed them for who they truly are, that they will not be able to hide in their wickedness, as they persecute mercilessly His flock, which he had warned them about earlier in His Gospel.  His point is, though they may persecute you, their evilness will shine through their falsified, nice demeanor they show the world, and yet, when they act with malice in their hearts, their evilness shall come out through their actions and deeds. In our words and deeds, our goodness must shine through our actions and deeds, to counteract our badness which also comes out through words and deeds.

The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately.  We have to ready and willing to accept the fact that we will be persecuted, and we must use the help that God provides, by asking for it, and that in the end that Good will triumph over Evil, with the wick-doers deeds of malice showing through their supposedly kind exterior. In these days of trials and tribulations, we must follow this three step process that I have at the end of my sermon, Be of God, Live of God and Act of God most especially.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hymns of the Church – God of Our Fathers, Unto Thee– 23 October 2018, Anno Domini(In the Year of our Lord)

            Though we will celebrate the National Day of Thanksgiving in America on the 22nd of November 2018, it is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O LORD, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.(from 1928 BCP, Communion Service, pg 76) Such is the spirit of the wonderful English hymn of Thanksgiving composed by Arthur Campbell Ainger in 1906. 

The hymn was later adapted to the tune of TRAFALGAR by Hugo Sidney Nicholson in 1916. This version of the hymn is taken from the Standard Edition, Hymns Ancient and Modern, published by the Church of England. (1922)

God of Our Fathers, Unto Thee

God of our fathers, unto Thee
Our fathers cried in danger’s hour,
And then Thou gavest them to see
The acts of Thine almighty power.
They cried to Thee, and Thou didst hear;
They called on Thee, and Thou didst save;
And we their sons today draw near
Thy name to praise, Thy help to crave.
Lord God of hosts, uplift Thine hand,
Protect and bless our fatherland.

Thine is the majesty, O Lord,
And Thine dominion over all;
When Thou commandest, at Thy word
Great kings and nations rise or fall.
For eastern realms, for western coasts,
For islands washed by every sea,
The praise be giv’n, O God of hosts,
Not unto us, but unto Thee. 
If in Thy grace Thou should’st allow
Our fame to wax through coming days,
Still grant us humbly, then as now,
Thy help to crave, Thy name to praise.
Not all alike in speech or birth,
Alike we bow before Thy throne;
One fatherland throughout the earth
Our Father’s noble acts we own.

God of our fathers, unto Thee Our fathers cried in danger’s hour, And then Thou gavest them to see The acts of Thine almighty power. They cried to Thee, and Thou didst hear; They called on Thee, and Thou didst save; And we their sons today draw near Thy name to praise, Thy help to crave.It is a fact that the faith of the fathers should be truly descended to that of the sons and daughters. In our modern day when families and marriages are under attack from nihilists and socio-communist engineers, the dutiful teaching of father’s to their sons and daughters concerning the meaning and purpose of our God-given days has suffered lapse. How do the youth of our land know to call upon a God and Father whom they have never known? If the Providential history of our nation were properly taught in public schools, there would yet be the spark of faith to recognize the snares and dangers of the modern assault upon freedom and liberty, and of the only source of true liberty being vested in the Creator of the World. But, happily, the burdens of hard oppression and unjust government often awaken the sleeping spirit of man to relearn the source of his salvation in the Lord whom he may have offended in his former ways. That is the hope of the nations, and of the helplessly trodden underfoot. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. 28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. 31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders(Psalm 107:27-32)Just as the houses and families of the fathers Zacchaeus and the Nobleman of Capernaum were brought to faith by their fathers, so should our own beloveds be brought to the same salvation.

 Thine is the majesty, O Lord, And Thine dominion over all; When Thou commandest, at Thy word Great kings and nations rise or fall. For eastern realms, for western coasts, For islands washed by every sea, The praise be giv’n, O God of hosts, Not unto us, but unto Thee. There is no true American, and something else. We are not African AND American. We are not Chinese AND American. We are not German AND American. We are either true-blue American, or we belong to a divided allegiance. The same is true of God our Father. We are not born of faith in half-bred circumstances. There is none other but God – not God AND Baptist.  Not God AND Presbyterian. Not God AND Anglican – but altogether we belong wholly to God or to the world only. My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.(1 Sam 2:1-4) 

Though our doctrine and faith may be defined by our biblical understanding as articulated by a denominational view, the truth stands eternally  immutable that God is forever true and every man a liar to the contrary.  . . . . let God be true, but every man a liar. (Romans 3:4) The Sovereignty of God is not limited to the righteous believer, but to all Creation (including the cruel and wrathful potentate). God used the fallen Samson to bring judgment on the heathen, and He even called Cyrus, by name, of the Medes and Persians, to conquer Babylon and set His people free to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem.

 If in Thy grace Thou should’st allow Our fame to wax through coming days, Still grant us humbly, then as now, Thy help to crave, Thy name to praise. Not all alike in speech or birth, Alike we bow before Thy throne; One fatherland throughout the earth Our Father’s noble acts we own. The believing remnant of America has been granted a time of reprieve to consider the works of the Lord and to appeal to His Sovereign Will and Providence in the affairs of the nation. If we fail, the failure will be profound for our nation. The hordes of evil doers and unbelievers are banging at the gate to enslave her inhabitants. How shall we respond? If we are as the seamen referenced in Psalm 107 who reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end, what shall be the response of the righteous of the land of our nativity? If we are at wits end, should we not call upon Him whose wisdom is from everlasting to everlasting. We cannot own the answers to our national predicament, but the Lord does, indeed, have those answers. 

The church is undergoing a mutiny of godless men in her midst while her ship is headed into stormy seas. They have ‘crept in unawares’ and have gained the better places of leadership. They propose the very things that God condemns. They are not part of the Holy Church but persist as parasites and deadly organism within her blood. It is high time for the seasoned crew to regain the helm and appeal to the Master Seaman to right our ship and bring her to safe harbor. 

Can you even imagine the response of the western world only fifty years ago if our people were persecuted for not embracing homosexual marriage – of not only rejecting abortion, but the ruthless murder of the infant at the very gates of sunlight and birth? 

I know not what lies ahead for America and the Christian world at large; but I do return thanksgiving to God for preserving us a Godly and free nation among the nations of the earth for these many years, and for His Providential Hand in guiding our Founding Fathers in establishing that nation upon Godly precepts. And I also pray for whatever judgment He may bring of hard persecution and chains if it will awaken us to those wonderful truths which define the Ancient Landmark of our faith, and the Old Paths wherein our fathers walked.