Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fourth Sunday after Trinity

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

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.

Consider these words from the Collect:

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

God can only help us if we put our trust in Him, we can never be strong, nor set aside to Him if we do not let Him be our leader. We need a leader to follow. We cannot be our own leaders. If we try to become our own leaders, it will not work. But if we will follow His lead, we will pass through this world in good order and go on to the next in eternal happiness. This is a very common theme within the Christian theme, do what God asks, we will be happy. If we don’t do what God asks, we won’t be happy. It seems simple enough in theory, but a lot harder in practice. It is a lot easier said or thought about than done. God is the only one who we should be concerned about, if we follow Him, than those who really matter will like us for who we are, and how we conduct ourselves, due to following God, and those who don’t, well, do not matter to us and as such are of no concern. Do what is right, avoid what is wrong and you will be happy is the basic principle of the Christian faith.

Paul builds on this, telling us that walking God’s path, though it may seem hard at the time, is nothing compared to the reward we receive in heaven for following God’s will. Let us think about that the next time we are struggling with an issue, whatever it may be. In the end, our reward will outweigh all of our struggles, if we will but keep our eye on the true prize.  God gave us free will, which if we exercise it properly, that is the will to overcome temptation.  What at first seems like a constrained way of living, once actually lived is really perfect freedom. It only seems constrained, because we cannot conceive how following His Word will allow us true freedom.  If we overcome temptation to do what we want and do what God wants, we will receive the gift of eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  For until Christ, there was no delivery from the pain of worldly existence; through Christ there is redemption of our souls and our resulting bodily resurrection.

Luke presents a simple message, yet one that is often misunderstood, with majestic language that brings the message to a point of incredible sharpness.  We are to be a guide to others to Christ, yet we cannot help others until our own problems are on the way to “solvation”, that is being solved through the salvation offered by Christ.  We need to follow Him, before we ask others to follow us.  After all, if we are not going in the right direction, why should others follow us?  We do not want to be leading others towards the Pit, rather, we want to be sure we are on the right path before we guide others along the path. We should be the pathfinders, finding the correct path for us to travel amongst the journey of life! We must be honest in our appraisal of ourselves so that we can do what we are supposed to. We also must not judge unrighteously, but judge with righteous judgement through the Holy Ghost. This means not judging others for sins that yourself are committing, but are ignoring for the sake of “judging” your neighbors”, or to put it shortly, without the Holy Ghost, all of our judgments are unrighteous. This is what Christ was talking about, and after it, condemn not, lest ye be condemned. This is connected with the parable of the mote. Often times when we are tempted to condemn somebody, we often ignore our own troubles and focus on theirs. Let us get our act together first, before we help others. So, how do we, imperfect that we are, be honest with ourselves?  The answer is easy, hard to implement, but easy!  The Holy Ghost.  Let Him into your heart and do what you are told.  Simple, yet hard to do.  We want to do what we want to do. But yet, it is what must be done, no matter how hard it seems at the time. It will get easier as we do it, but it will never be truly easy. But it is way easier than the alternative, which is not following God’s Word.

Speaking of doing, what we do to others is a good measure of how we follow God’s Will and Direction.  We are expected to treat others as we would be treated.  Our real earthly fortune, as well as are eternal lives, are a reflection of our commitment to God.

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

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

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

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Third 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 
The entire AOC Sunday Report is
forewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

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

The Collect starts as they often do by asking God to hear us.  It seems to me that this is rather odd a thing to ask as He hears us all the time; the problem is that when we need His Help we so rarely ask, then when He answers, we will not hear Him.  That being said, when we do accept the Holy Ghost’s Help to pray, we can expect to receive spiritual, mental and physical comfort from God.  But, as the old radio talk show personality Bruce Williams was fond of saying, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”  So, ask. And don’t be afraid to ask, as God can help us with whatever difficulties we happen to be facing. No problem is too big to help, with God’s help, that is. We are talking about the same God who parted the waters of the Red Sea, who inflicited the 12 plagues on the Egyptians, who took Abraham and made him the patriarch of a great nation, whose Son rose up from the dead. With all of these deeds and many more that He has done, do you think your problems are too big for Him to handle? I do not think so!

When we ask for help and get it, we get great results.  But, when we get those results, who should really get the credit?  As Peter tells us in his epistle, we should not spend or time being proud of what we have been given, rather we should use those gifts to the benefit of those around us. God should be the one who gets the credit, it is all His doing in the end and not ours. We have been given His Grace and Inspiration, and all of our talents are sourced from Him, who is our creator. It is a waste of our talent to be bragging about it, but to effectively use our talents, we should just use it to God’s glory and not waste time with boastful statements. We could use the time we spend bragging about our talents more productively, such as using them to further His Glory and Word in this world. This is what He wants for us, to paraphrase the Great Commission, to carry out the Word to all Nations and Baptize all of them who would believe on His Son Jesus, in Jesus’ Name. He will give us the needed guidance and talents to carry out this magnficient task. And, when we have troubles, we should bring them to God and ask Him to carry our concerns and worries so that we might tend to the tasks set before us.  We cannot do this mission alone, we desperately need His help at all times, which is something everybody struggles with. But we must ask His help and be willing to listen to what he says. Often times He answers and we do not hear, due to our selfishness, we must clear our ears and be able and willing to listen to His response to us. That is critical if we are to follow the principles our Lord has set forth for us. The biggest message in the Bible, which repeats, is that actions have more meaning than mere words. We must try to have our actions fit our words of belief.

We must pay attention to the world around us and take care not to fall prey to the devil, for he is constantly looking for ways to help us drift off our path towards heaven.  We must keep situational awareness at all times, so we do not fall into any of his traps that he has laid out for us. You must understand that other Christians come from the same pool you do, humanity, they have the same frailties and problems you do. We all are the sinful creatures in the pattern of Adam. The word pictures painted of “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” is both vivid and true!  It is not enough to just not follow the devil and look to him for help.  We must actively turn away his so called help and look to God for Guidance, Help and Comfort. We must fight our evil nature which would lead us towards the side of the devil and to follow the voice of our Creator, of His Son Jesus, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and stand fast in His Word. 

Hang in there and do your very best, God will take care of you in the end.  There are none so poor as cannot purchase a noble death.  Never ever forget that.  

Trust in God and dread naught. For there are sufficient evils to the day thereof, as Christ said (Matthew 6:34 KJV)

When Saint Luke tells that Jesus not only talked to “sinners” but broke bread and ate with them, he related a story that was a particular concern to the Pharisees.  They were quite appalled that those who were particularly sinners in their very qualified eyes were attracted to Jesus.  They knew a sinner when they saw one (except in the mirror) and were quite certain sinners would never get in to heaven.  But, not only did Jesus appeal to the sinners, He even talked to them.  My goodness, He went so far as to break bread with them and engage them in conversation at meat!  We should not be like the Pharisees and make a proud and loud show of how we are better than anybody else (not true, some of us are less worse than others but none better), and act “superior” to the modern day Gentiles, the non-believers. If we act like that, we give Christianity a bad name. It does not need any more help getting a bad name, with the lies of Satan spreading around the world, so let us act in the manner that Christ would have us act and show the world the light of Christ.

This really bothered the the Pharisees who thought they knew everything there was to know about the Law. They counted upon the Law saving them. They were wrong, as it is Our Lord Jesus who saves, and the fact he talks and engages the sinners, meant that He cares for each person in this World deeply, and loves them enough to die for them. All they have to do is accept Him and follow Him. The Pharisees just could not grasp this.

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

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

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

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Second Sunday after Trinity

The entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

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

We must acknowledge God will help and lead us if we will look to him for that help and leadership.  We need His Help, in the form of the Holy Ghost, to direct our hearts, minds and souls to look to Him for that Help in our time of need.

Speaking of time of need; when do we need God?  Only when we are falling short of perfection.  That would be all the time.

The Epistle is a great illustration of why we need guidance from the Holy Ghost all the time.  If we want God’s love, we have to love those around us.  That is pretty easy.  It is easy to love people.  The problem is that we actually have to act on that claim of love, not just say we love them.  We have to give of our time and effort to help those around us who have problems.  John tell us “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”

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

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

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

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

So, what we need to do is ask the Holy Ghost for help to make God’s agenda ours; thus when we please God, we please ourselves.  A win – win situation. And it will make us far happier people as a result, which is what God’s plan is for us all along. Whenever he tells us not to do something, it is to make us happy not sad.

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

Do you recall the words of GK Chesterton:

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

We need to come to church and read the Bible so we can find out what God wants.  But, the idea is not to find out what He wants so we can work around it or live with it, but rather live in it.  Think about the 613 Mosaic laws and the Pharisees who made a good living telling people how to comply with them to the letter and still do just what they wanted to do. 

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

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

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

Sunday, June 7, 2015

First Sunday after Trinity

If you would like to read the entire AOC Sunday Report it is RIGHT HERE!

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  How little we need other guidance, if we but listen to what God tells us.

Consider these words from the Collect:

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

This is a little longer Collect than usual, but in it we acknowledge that God is the source of our strength, as we are weak and cannot do any true good without His Help; thus we ask His help or grace to do His Will in both in our thoughts and actions.

And, what is the first action we are to take?  To love one another.  Saint John pointed out if we do not love our fellow creatures here on earth whom we have seen and touched, how then can we claim to have love for God, whom not one of us have seen?  We then cannot love God if we cannot love our fellow humans, no matter how far they have strayed from His path, we are still to love them and offer them help and help others. Jesus came to serve, as the ultimate Servant, so must we be also.

We have to truly love individuals. This does not mean approving of their acts which are sinful and harmful to their health. We would not condone smoking or homosexual acts or abortion. Though we may know individuals who do these things, we must despise the sin, but realize that these people, no matter how truly fallen they may be (remember, some are worse than others, but none are better. As St. Paul says, all fall short.), are people created in the express image to God. It is our duty to attempt to shine the light of Christ to them, that they might see their inner darkness and return to Him.

However, if they are not receptive, then we must not force it upon them, as do not cast your pearls before swine, but merely shake your feet off and walk way. You never know what seeds you plant in your interactions with unbelievers or lapsed Christians that may redirect them still towards God.

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

God loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for our sins.  That is true love.  Not that we love Him, but that first He loved us!  So, if God first loved us, ought we also not love each other?  No one has seen God at any time.  Yet, He loves us and we say we love Him.  If we do love one another, then God is in us, the Holy Ghost, and we are in Him.  Be bold, the world will end some time, for each of us it ends when we leave here.  Fear not, trust in God and dread naught.

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

To love one another and act on that love.  To consider the ways we might help others and then actually help them.  It is not a question of giving, but helping.  The rich man could have helped Lazarus, but it never entered his head. The rich man, like many of us sadly, only thought of himself. Jesus illustrates perfectly in this parable what happens when we only think of ourselves and do not help others or think of others even. The rich man could have thought of poor Lazarus and given him a place to stay and food to eat and paid for it, like the Good Samaritan. Instead, he just let him die, figuring that that was the end of him. It turns out that he was wrong and soon the tables would be reversed.  Lazarus was a rather disgusting feature of his world and when he died, the rich man was pleased not to have to pass by him.  Yet, it never entered into his head to help. 

How is that possible? 

Simple, his eye was not on the donut, but on the hole.  The rich man cared about all the things that don’t count and never considered those that do. Which is as said earlier, is a problem at that all of us face at one time or another due to our very nature of being sinful beings.  We tend to get caught up in school, work or pleasure and everything in between and forget to tend to our spiritual health and as you neglect a plant by not watering it and nurturing it, if you so neglect your soul, you will have a horrible death. However, if you nurture it and water your soul by the Scriptures and guided by the Holy Ghost, then you will have an absolutely wonderful and epic afterlife.

Indeed, between heaven and hell there is a great gulf fixed.  But, you must understand, the gulf is not of God’s making but ours.  It is us who keeps us from the heaven He offers freely, yet at a great price.

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

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

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

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

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God