Verse of the Day

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Rev LTC Hap Arnold, CA ANG USAF Retired

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those members of our Armed   This is not a day to thank a veteran, probably it is the only day of the year that it is not the day for that.  All veterans heard the country’s call and answered.  They were not those who would not hear.  But, those of us here today are the fortunate ones, for whatever reason we made it back.   In my case after 30 years and two weeks of military service with the Navy and Air Force, thirty-five percent of the people I flew with did not make it back one way or the other.  They are the ones we remember today, they paid the entire bill for our freedom.  Well, maybe not all the cost.
Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice, without whose sacrifice we would not be free.

When we think of Memorial Day, we remember the young men and women who since the beginning of this great nation answered the call of freedom when our country was in peril, rode into battle and did not return.  We honor those who lost their lives in training, transit and combat.  But, we often forget the families they left behind; mothers, fathers, wives and husbands, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.  Each of them bore a portion of the cost of freedom.  This cost is not a one shot deal.  Those who remain behind pay every day of their time left here on earth.  The cost of freedom is high, very high.  It is just cheaper than not being free.  But, it is payable on demand. 

If you want to know what freedom costs, ask our Presiding Bishop. Jerry Ogles' younger brother Kenneth Wayne Ogles joined the National Guard at age 17 and immediately transferred to the active Army’s First Cavalry Division.  He wanted to make a difference, to do his duty to God and Country and protect the innocent people of South Vietnam.  Ken was killed in action on 16 February 1967, in the Ia Drang Valley, in the Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnam, with the First Platoon of C Company, the First Battalion of the 8th Cavalry, First Cavalry Division at the age of 19.  There is not a day that has gone by in the intervening 49 years that Jerry and his family did not measure the cost of freedom.  Remember Kenneth the next time someone wants you to give a little freedom for the promise of safety or comfort.

I do not know how many ways to say it, but FREEDOM IS NOT FREE; it is the most costly commodity on this earth, except for not being free.  That costs more.

Memorial Days[1].
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

It seems to me that Memorial Day is one of the saddest days of our year.  This is not because of the cost to our country, in particular the families who remain behind, though that cost is huge.  The reason the day so sad is that the people have absolutely no feeling for the cost of the freedom they value so little today. 

Our country is free today because when our freedom has been threatened by those who would overturn our way of life, patriots stepped forward to take action against our country’s foes.  They put their lives on the line that we might be free.  Tomorrow on Memorial Day, we remember those whose lives were given, whose families paid the price for our freedom today.  They did not give their lives for anything but freedom.  If you ascribe their motives to other motives, you do so at your own peril.

Hundreds of thousands have given their future and the futures of their families’ for ours.  Charge your glass, raise it high.  Drink to them.  Give thanks to God for their patriotism and steadfast courage.

A final note to each of you veterans reading this report, each of you stepped forward when the country called.  You heard the call others could not. 

We are the lucky ones, we are here.  We must never forget the cost of freedom, dearly paid by those who have gone before us.

To my fellow veterans, I thank each of you for stepping forward and I am grateful you are all here with me to remember.

[1] From the Book of Common Prayer page 42

Sunday, May 29, 2016

First Sunday after Trinity

Bishop Ogles’ and Rev Jack Arnold’s Sermons – First Sunday after Trinity
Today Bishop Jerry and Rev Jack are traveling back today from their trip to Serbia, Macedonia and France visiting AOC parishes in each of the countries.  They were teaching, preaching, visiting and in the case of Bishop Jerry even confirming, ordaining and consecrating!  

They likely have preached some fine some sermons during their trip, but they have not filtered back here.  As this is written they are close to landing in Atlanta, where they each change planes for their respective home airports arriving at evening meal time in their time zones.  Pray for their safe return to their homes in peace.

Sermon – Reverend Hap 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:

… 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 must to truly love individuals.  For many of us, the first step is to stop hating them, for if love is the epitome of good, hate is the nadir of evil.  Hate is a truly bad thing for us, it is all consuming and all destroying.  First stop hating, hate no person.  No one is evil enough to justify your hating them.  There are many people whose removal from this world would be a benefit to the world, that does not mean you should hate them.  You can feel sad for them, depending on circumstances you may be justified in sending them out of this world.  Do not hate.  Do not condemn to Hell.  That is God’s job, not yours.

Loving does not mean approval of acts which are sinful and harmful to one’s health, spiritual or physical. We cannot condone smoking or homosexual acts or abortion. Though we may know individuals who do these things, we must despise the sin, but realize 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 of God by God. It is our duty to attempt to shine the light of Christ for 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 which in the end may serve to guide them on or back to the path leading upward and inward to God’s country. 

“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 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, a problem at 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 and water your soul by the Scriptures and allow yourself to be guided by the Holy Ghost, you will have an absolutely wonderful life from now to eternity, after all if you have eternal life it starts NOW, not tomorrow.  For indeed, tomorrow never comes.

It must be understood between heaven and hell there is a great gulf fixed.  It is equally important to grasp 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, there is immense pleasure from the result of helping people, so much more than feathering your own nest, so to speak.  It is not only more blessed to give than to receive, but it brings a lot more happiness into your life.

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trinity Sunday

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

Bishop Ogles’ and Rev Jack Arnold’s Sermons – Trinity Sunday
Today Bishop Jerry and Rev Jack are on travel to Serbia, Macedonia and France visiting AOC parishes in each of the countries.  They are teaching, preaching, visiting and in the case of Bishop Jerry even confirming and consecrating!  On Sunday 22 May 2016, appropriately Trinity Sunday, in Beograd (Belgrade), Serbia, Bishop Jerry L. Ogles consecrated Rev Igor Djurcik as Bishop of Serbia and Macedonia in The Anglican Orthodox Worldwide Communion. Pray our Lord Jesus Christ will be with Igor and that he will send his grace upon him, that he may truly execute the Office whereunto he is called.

They likely have preached some fine some sermons during their trip, but they have not filtered back here.  Pray for the Holy Ghost to enter into them both that they might do their very best to spread His Word and for a safe and enjoyable trip and to return to their homes in peace.

Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon was on the basic concept of the Triune God, that is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and how they were introduced to us through time and the Bible in particular. Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity …

In the Collect, we acknowledge there is a Triune God, that is to say there are three aspects of God; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.  A Triune God, that mean Three in One, not three separate Gods or godlets, but a single being with three aspects.  How does this work?

The honest answer is – WE DON’T KNOW.  We just have been told there are three and They are ONE.  We have some knowledge and scriptural guidance on how parts of the thing work, but not all.  Saint Paul told the people of Corinth, 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)  One of the basic principles of classified information is NEED TO KNOW.  Like many secrets, we don’t really have a need to know, so we have not been told.  We know:

·      God is I AM;
·      God the Father sent The Son to be our Savior, He was there at the beginning of this world;
·    The Holy Ghost breathed life into the world, and brings understanding, comfort, strength, perseverance, courage, inspiration, patience;
·      They all have always been and always will be.

That is what we know; it leaves a lot we don’t know, but we can certainly be kept busy with what we do know.  That must be enough for the here and now. We must be content with what we read in Scripture, all the other stuff we wonder about Him is just extraneous details, like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  So much theological discussion is captured in that term.  So, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  Whatever the number, the answer from our standpoint is so very simple, As many as God determines the circumstances require.  Note, as God requires!  Not you, not me.  God. 

We must put aside the thoughts of who and what God is, and just understand He is I AM, and there is God, there is the Son, and there is the Holy Ghost and they all work together in their own way to be the one God of our faith. There is a reason for this even though we don’t know it, but it works out, so we do not have to wonder how it works, we just continue believing and acting!

But, what of later?  If we have eternal life, we have it now and later.  What comes later?  Heaven.  What is heaven?  John attempts to tell us.  He attempts to show us the majesty and glory of heaven using words.  The picture he paints is intended to be awe inspiring and seems to meet that goal handily.  The main thing we can be certain of is that we will not be disappointed.  We speculate as to will this or that be in heaven?  When we get there the answer will manifest itself and you will have no regrets.  In heaven there is no disappointment.  Heaven is the real world, where things are bright, not dull and dark as though looking through a glass. Rest assured, we will see for ourselves what it is like one day, all we need to know is that it is a really wonderful place that we should be aiming to go to when we die, through our belief and actions here on earth working together!

So, how do we get to the real world from these Shadowlands?  There is but one way, the Einbahnstraße.

Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.[1]

Do not be fooled by “fair”, there is only one way into heaven.  That door is at the end of a long and narrow trail, steeply inclined upward with many seemingly easy, smooth, beautiful and interesting branches leading downward into the pit.  Doing good is good, so to speak; doing good without God is not good enough.  Only being accounted perfect will get you up the path and in the door.

We need help!  Lots of help.  The first thing we need in our hearts is a new heart, a new and contrite heart.  That is really hard, in fact, it is so hard it cannot be done by ourselves.  We need something.  A new start.

We must be born of the spirit!  What spirit?  

The Holy Ghost.  We must accept that we in and of ourselves will never be perfect.  No one gets in to heaven unless they are accounted as perfect.  We will never be perfect in and of ourselves.  Should we quit trying?  Not, we are commanded to follow our Christ.  Will we fail?  Without question.  What is the solution?  To believe and follow the Christ.  To open our hearts to the Holy Ghost that we might believe in full and accept the help from the Christ that our imperfection needs to be His followers.

To follow God, we need Christ as our leader and the Holy Ghost as our compass. In short, we need all members of the Trinity’s influence in our lives if we are to arrive in the real world, that of Heaven.

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits.  Open your heart to the Holy Ghost; use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

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] 1 St. John ii. 1, 2 and Book of Common Prayer, page 76

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday

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

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

Consider these words from the Collect:

… sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort  …

When Jesus left on Ascension Day, we lost a teacher here on earth.  We still have Him as Redeemer and Savior; but what to do for understanding?  In response to His departure, God sent us the Holy Ghost.

Who is this Holy Ghost and why is he here?

We worship the One True God, a triune God, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Most people have no trouble understanding the concept of God the Father, Christians seem to get God the Son, but many seem to have a bit of difficulty with the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost has been there since the beginning.  He breathed life into the world, yet His actions seemed to be sporadic until Pentecost. 

Well, today is Pentecost, the time one normally thinks of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, the Comforter.  When people do think of Him, they oft think of the actions described in the words of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  The dancing and speaking in tongues.  All that happened so we might understand that with the help of the Holy Ghost we might bring the Word to all mankind.  The Word of God is a universal language.  When the disciples spoke in tongues, the people around them heard the Word in their own language, not an odd combination of sounds that no one understood.  The disciples spoke and were heard by those around them in their own language, not Klingon.  It is not for us to speak in tongues without study; that was a one shot deal.  It was designed to show us that we could, with hard work and persistence bring the Gospel to the world in the language of the people. It showed that we were in fact to preach the Gospel to all nations, not just the nation of Israel, but to all the nations of the World. The many nations of the fallen race of Adam all comprise those to whom the Good News is to be spread. Which is what the purpose of God sending the Holy Ghost was for, was for us to bring the light of Christ into the world for all to see and believe upon. He is here so that we can understand and then act upon His Word. He is here to provide us with the guidance and understanding necessary to preach and spread the Word into the far regions of the Earth. The Holy Ghost allows us to spread His Word amongst all the people in the world and to convince them and let them believe. It opens our eyes to what is good for us and what is not good for us, so that we know what to believe and what not to believe. 

We need the Holy Ghost if we are to follow the Great Commission Christ set forth. He knew we would need the Holy Ghost if we were to have any success in this endeavor. However, He also knew that He needed to leave if the Holy Ghost were to come and stay, so the Holy Ghost’s coming had to wait until after the Ascension. He had it planned out so the disciples would not be without a direct connection to Him for very long. 

The Holy Ghost is also our direct connection to God. When Jesus left, the disciples were distant from God. When they were not near Jesus, they did not do as well as when they were with Him. See Peter’s actions after the arrest of Jesus for an example, thrice denying His Lord. The Holy Ghost came so that we would have understanding and a direct connection to God, wireless as it were, instead of having to be tethered to Christ. It is how He will always be with us, even though He is not physically with us at the present time. We will never have to fear anything as long as He is with us, for if He is with us, who should we be afraid of, if we are on His side?

If we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we will never be far from Him, and He will never be far from us. We have to consciously let Him into our hearts, He will not come uninvited into our hearts. The Holy Ghost will help us understand Scripture and will give us guidance on our earthly lives, as we work towards staying on the straight and narrow path towards heaven He will be a constant guiding presence in our lives, that will give us peace in times of trouble, and will help us guide and focus our minds in our worship of God.  He will give us the inspiration and help us to do what is right for our fellow Christians and friends, while staying true to God. He will light our paths in difficult times and trials and will give us the guidance we need to finish our race for God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He would be leaving, but the Father would send a facilitator; one who whose presence, if we let Him into our hearts, would let us understand His Word with those self same hearts.  The Comforter would bring the Love of God into our hearts to let us feel His Love.  He will help us understand that we are striving to be one with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Ghost.  Our love can be demonstrated by our actions.  Which are only possible if we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts and believe and Act upon our faith! This is a point that is made time and time again in Scriptures. We need to be doers of the world, not just hearers, to paraphrase St. James. For if we love Jesus, we will do as He asked.

If you think about it, you will recall that the second half of the Book of Luke is titled The Acts of the Apostles.  It is not the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings, the meditations, the inner feelings or any other touchy feely thing, it is the ACTS.  If you believe, act on those beliefs. The Holy Ghost is here to help us know how to act, we will just have to let Him into our hearts, and then ACT. 

We need the help of the Holy Ghost to learn what we are to do, how we are to do it and most of all to do it.  Action, not just diction.

Pray for His continual presence in your heart.

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, May 8, 2016

Sunday after the Ascension

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

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

Once again the propers for this week come together very well, their focus is narrow, thus powerful.

Consider these words from the Collect:

leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before

The Ascension having just happened, Jesus having ascended in to heaven, we are alone and separated from God who gives us strength.  Like Peter, the further we are from God, the weaker we are.  Thus, we are looking towards Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Ghost.  We ask for God’s help that we might have the true belief, courage, knowledge and strength to follow Jesus to heaven for all eternity.

While the end of the earth and this world may come at any time, for 313,000 people each day, their time here is up.  Thus, in a very real sense as Saint Peter put it, “The end of all things is at hand…”  So, how should we act?  We are to do what we can with a smile on our face.  We should act as if it was our last day on earth. We need to be mindful of the fact that at any time, the world could end for each of us. In other words, if this was our last day on this planet, how would we act? That is a question I must ask myself more often and not only ask it, but answer it. Then once the Holy Spirit has given the answer, we must act upon that answer. This is a continuous process and we must always prioritize our work to be for God, our Family and Country in that order and things will fall in line. Along these lines, we should strive to work hard, take care of those who cannot and be good stewards of the considerable grace God has given us.  This does not just refer to spending MONEY, but rather to giving of our time and effort to bring the Gifts of God to others. We must give ourselves entirely to help others, so that we may share the benefits of the Gift of God truly. Then we will know the grace of God’s love truly.  We are to share the LOVE in our hearts with those we encounter, for Love is of God.

For as St. Peter says in his Epistle this morning, charity (love) truly does cover a multitude of sins. So when we do things for others, the driving force behind our actions should be that of charity, or love, for our fellow human beings and not any self-seeking motivation. Charity will cover for our multitude of sins, but we need to be thinking of how we can use that charity in our hearts to help others. It is one of the greatest gifts that God and the Holy Spirit gives to us and it is a gift we find ourselves needing to use more often. The Holy Spirit is key in giving us the desirable thoughts and attributes that we need to carry out His Plan on Earth.

But, without the Holy Ghost, the needed action on our part is impossible.  We need God’s help and He sent it in the form of the Holy Ghost. He sent it as the “Comforter”, that is to Comfort us and to Guide us on the journey on the narrow uphill path towards heaven. The Holy Ghost is that portion of God who can enter our hearts bringing understanding, hope and most of all the courage and determination to do what needs be done.  Those who will not have Him in their hearts can never understand God and His Will.  That is why they cannot understand or fathom the plan He has for us. They cannot understand why we follow God and Christ. They do not believe, therefore, they cannot have Him in their hearts, and therefore they will not understand. The end of time is nearer each day than the day before, of that we can be certain.  But there is a certainty we have in this uncertainly world, the unfailing love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus and the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, if we let Him in, and the inerrant Holy Scriptures to guide us throughout the rest of our lives. With this knowledge of an unchanging standard, we can stand fast by this standard and be content with knowing we are following the One True God, and though we may suffer a while, it is nothing to enjoying eternity with God. We just have to DO and ACT our best for Him here, though it may be hard, it will be worth it in the end. The current climate in the world and even in this country is less hospitable than in centuries to Christians.  There is a reason for this which only God understands and not us. God has a plan for all of this, in time, we will realize what the plan is. But for now, we are unaware of His plan in the greater scheme of things. But what it is doing is solidifying the faith of true believers around the globe, forming the Army of Light together, ready to battle against the malicious forces of Satan. We cannot make this journey alone.  We must have the close and continuous presence of God.  That presence is the Holy Ghost.  That is why He is here.

Pray for His continual presence in your heart.

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, May 1, 2016

Fifth Sunday after Easter, commonly called Rogation Sunday

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

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

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.

Consider these words from the Collect:

by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same

As we near the Ascension and thus Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Ghost, we ask for God’s “holy inspiration we may think those things that are good”, that is to say help from the Holy Ghost so we might direct our souls to the things we cannot see as good without His Help.   Once we see them, we need His “merciful guiding may perform the same…”.  After all, what good is it to know what we should do, if we won’t, can’t or don’t do it?

That brings us right to Saint James’ point, we gain our salvation through the freely given gift of Grace by our Lord Jesus Christ.   Once given, it must be accepted.  If we truly accept the gift, it will be evident in our actions.  Our actions should reflect that we are a hearer and a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer only. To truly a believer requires that we make that belief known in our lives through action.  If you are going to be a Christian, the key is right there – BE.  Being requires action, not just diction.  Many can talk the talk, but will they walk the walk too? Being a Christian requires doing both, which may be very difficult sometimes, but it must be done. It is the only way we will have salvation, through Christ, but yet we must be with Him, by acting for Him. If you are going to be a Christian, what you say is of no import compared to what you DO.  Do your actions reflect God’s image or that of the other guy?  Who do you put first?  Pretty basic questions that often we don’t like the answer to. But they must be answered nevertheless, all the same.

We must align our lives to be able to show people we do follow Christ. There are too many people who claim to be Christians, who are clearly not, because their lives do not reflect their stated belief. We must not let this happen. We must show the truth of John 14:6  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” To show this truth we have to live that truth through our actions. It is not just enough to say we know the Word of God, if we truly know the Word of God, we will act upon that Word of God and serve Him in this life.

Without Christ’s guiding light, we are not on the path to holiness and righteousness. We must show this in our lives, by living and breathing His Word, and using His Word to guide us throughout our lives. These are all actions we take to show that we have belief and are acting upon that belief.  This is important to our souls for our spiritual health, and as well as our physical health too. We need all the Help of the Holy Ghost to keep us on this path. How do we keep on this path?

We find a lot of help in John’s words, he give us insight into things that none of the other disciples do.  We need help.  We pray for help. Pray for help that we might act, and that is how we keep on the straight, narrow and uphill path.  So, what about prayer?  Let’s start with to whom do we pray?

Jesus is pretty clear.  Don’t pray to Him, pray to God.  Feel free to use His Name.  Pray to God in His Name.  In effect, we are CC’ing (Carbon Copying, to use an archaic term which as transitioned to an electronic mail (email) term) Jesus in our prayers. We are not to put Him in the To: line, but the CC line. Not addressing Him directly, but to address God directly with Jesus copied, as it were. He tells us God loves us because we love Jesus.   But, pray to God. I think that not many people have ever understood this part of scripture, as I have heard people pray to Jesus when he is not the correct person to address your prayers to. He specifically tells us to direct the prayers to His Father, who can better help us.

If that is the case, seems like it pretty much rules out praying to Saint Bob, does it not? If we can’t pray to Jesus, why would we be praying to a Saint?  We would be praying to a  human, who we may or may not put any trust in. But if we pray to God, we can be certain He will answer us, and even if we don’t like the answer, we know that is the course we will have to take. It doesn’t matter if we like God’s answer or not, we still have to listen to it, and do it anyway, knowing it will be the right path in the end. We will always have some sort of a struggle with this in our lives, but if we turn to God, He will help us win our struggle.

We have to listen to His Answer and think on it and then act upon what His Answer is and not just dismiss it. Dismissing it is all too easy for us to do, since we are naturally inclined not to do it. But we have to think that dismissing His Answers will not gain us anything in the long or short term.  We need to listen to His Answers and then act upon them, which will be the key to true happiness within our lives.

We have to realize what we truly need and ask that He will open our hearts, minds and souls to His answer that we might act upon His answer. The critical portion is that we act upon the answer that we are given, to do our best for Him and that our friends, family and coworkers and neighbors might see the light we shine for Him and see who we follow in word and in deed. We must show others not just through our words, but through our actions that we truly belong to Christ’s flock. We must show great love for our fellow man, even to the point of death, through our actions, to reflect Christ’s love for us, that He too loved us even to the point of death.

So, pray to God, ask for what you want in Jesus’ Name.  He always listens and He always delivers.  The problem for us is that what He delivers is what we need, not necessarily what we want. Our wants and our needs are oft different, in fact they are seldom the same. But we should want what we need, and God will help us understand that, if we be a doer and a hearer of His Word. He will always give us what we need, but will we listen to what He wants us to do?

Need and want, they are both four letter words, oft used interchangeably, which do not mean the same thing.

God’s Will is always done, we just don’t understand.  Accept what happens as acceptable, so long as you have done all you can.  In the end, all that counts is where you go when you leave here.  That depends on your actions in following Jesus’ instructions.  If you believe, you are safe.  Now and forever.

Ø  Talk the Talk;
Ø  Walk the Walk.

It is 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