Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sexagesima Sunday

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:

…put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity …

In the Collect, we tell God we put our trust for eternal life not in our actions, but in His Power.  If we do this, then we must do as He asks us.  For, to make trust in His Power rational, we must follow His Directions. We cannot trust our own sense of direction for spiritual matters; but must look to Our Heavenly Father for guidance. If we do not follow His Direction then we are surely going be just as lost as before we accepted Him into our hearts. It would be foolish to think we could guide ourselves, when in fact we need Him to guide us. The problem is in our case pride often gets in the way of seeing that we need to rely on Him for guidance.   Pride blinds our spiritual senses from seeing God’s truth and we need God’s truth to get through life and onto that narrow upward path towards heaven. We need Him as our navigator to guide us along the rocky paths of life, so we don’t crash into the rocks of Sin and Death!  We need His directions if we are to proceed upon the path to Heaven.

The Collect also goes on to explain His Power will give us defense in adversity. It explains His Power is the only real power which can help us in times of trouble and sorrow. If we rely on Him, He will get us through turbulent and troubled times. The key is we have to let Him into our hearts and rely on his counsel and judgement. It is the only power which will give us comfort in times of adversity and strength to get through those times. 

We have to recognize God does have the power to help us overcome adversity. Of our own volition we can sometimes overcome physical adversity, but never spiritual. With God’s help we can overcome both. We need to internalize this into our hearts, so our first automatic reaction is to come to Him for help whenever we encounter either spiritual and physical dangers.  We have to override our natural reaction of relying on ourselves for guidance, which will do nothing for our spiritual battles and might harm us in our physical battles here on this planet. He truly is the only one who can help us.

Everything good we do does not originate from our own Hearts, but from the goodness of God via the Holy Spirit who is residing within us. If we do not have the Holy Spirit within us, it will not be possible for us to do those good works for Him.

Paul tells the Corinthians whatever they have suffered there compares nothing to what he has suffered for Christ in all of his labourings, watchings and fastings. Yet this is not his main point, which is in all of these sufferings he always drew on the power of the Holy Spirit and used the sufferings for God’s glory and not for his. He is not bragging when he tells them of what he suffered, however, he is meaning to say he got through these hard times with God’s help and also to bring glory and point the way to God and His Son Jesus Christ.   His point is if God helped him get through all of this turbulent and troubled experience, God can and will help us through these times too if we will but let Him.

From his beginnings as the chief persecutor of Christ’s followers to now as one of the top apostles of Christ, Paul tells us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example. Paul wanted to show us how God’s Grace and mercy changed His life and got Him through some pretty bad times. Paul pointed out if you trust in God and follow His Instructions, you too can get through the most awful of times as well.  Thus, he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves.  Do your best and look towards God.

This brings us right in to the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike.  

Like the seed sown by the sower, The Word is spread throughout the world for all to hear and act on:

  • Yet, some will not even hear The Word (Hard ground);

  • Others will hear, act quickly and abandon God’s help at the first sign of adversity (Stony ground);

  • Still others will hear The Word, but The Word is overtaken by the “pleasures” of this world and is choked out by them. Like the line from the Bible, where your money is, that is your worldly effort, there is the evidence of your heart.  The temptation of this world is great, the reward from God is far greater, but you have to look long term;

  • Finally, we come to those who accept and act on The Word, like the one seed growing into a great plant bearing its fruit, the rewards are manifold, though the effort is also great, the end reward far greater.  For the seed to grow to full fruition and glory, with its manifold blessings, it must have the ground prepared, carefully tended against encroachment of the evil weeds, it must be continually watered by the life blood of those around it.  There is much effort required on our part, but the ultimate reward is so much greater.

While we are on the subject, consider the issue of weeding. In order for a garden to thrive, you need to consistently pull the weeds from the garden, otherwise the weeds will choke and kill the good plants. That is why we must always be wary of the world’s influence on the church and work to weed out that influence, so it does not choke the Biblical truths believed for over two millennia by Christians.  In order to do this, we need to work hand in hand with our fellow believers to weed out any worldly influence or trouble within the church.  This is why it is best that believers attend a Bible believing Church, where they can get valuable friendship and from that friendship, spiritual mentoring for their day to day lives.

So, think about this, we need to understand eternal life and indeed on a shorter term, happiness in our life here, comes not from our self-directed actions, but those of God and our action following His direction. We need to understand the implications of following our self-directed action, which if we follow, we will find death and misery awaiting us. However, if we put our trust in Him and follow His commands, we will “live long and prosper” to quote Spock. Understanding the difference between the two will help you prepare yourself for a happier physical and spiritual life. Do your best and look towards God for the Light to illuminate your path.  If you prepare your heart, as the farmer prepares the field, root out the forces of this world as the farmer roots out weeds, cultivate the good given by God, water your heart with His Water, your life will be manifold.

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, February 17, 2019


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion, Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and readings for this week. Consider these words from the Collect:

… we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness …

In the Collect, we ask God who knows we should be “…justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour …”  To get into heaven we need to be accounted as perfect. Yet, we cannot be “cured” of sin nor “improved” to perfection. So how do we solve this irregularity? We know we ourselves cannot solve our dilemma.  Who can? There is a solution for us! Consider the words of John Newton near the end of his life, “Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!” The answer lies in the latter part of Newton’s quote. Jesus is the answer to this great dilemma. Our sins are justly punished by eternal damnation, yet there is hope in our Lord. He brought us this hope by His Death upon the Cross and delivered it in the Resurrection. Without His Sacrifice one time for all mankind, there would be no hope for our eternal future. But Jesus is our hope for that eternal future. We just have to do our best to follow His commandments and to stay the course that He has set for us in our lives.

What Paul speaks of in his Epistle is the great reward we receive for holding steady to that course which God has set for us. For eternal salvation is the delivery promised to each of us by Jesus. This is our great hope that we can cling to whenever things on Earth look gloomy. If we remember the Hope that we have in Jesus, then whatever bad things may happen to us on Earth will seem small in comparison to the fact that Jesus has given us eternal life. This is the great reward for the race we run daily here on Earth. Make no mistake, like a marathon, this run requires frequent training in the Scriptures and acting upon the concepts in Scriptures. And like marathon runners, we receive a wonderful prize.  However, it is a prize that has value beyond anything on Earth. The prize is for the promise of an eternal, unending life, to be spent with our Lord and Savior Jesus. It is for the promise of a world unaffected by the tarnish of sin, unblackened by the sinful deeds of imperfect beings. It is an unshadowed world.  It shall be true happiness at last, to meet with our beloved family, our Christian heavenly family, friends and beloved pets. 

Eternal salvation is a far more valuable prize than anything we could possibly acquire here on Earth.  It is in fact a priceless treasure, truly priceless, except for the death of our Saviour and resurrection. That is the only price involved with our eternal freedom.  As the saying goes, there is no free lunch. Eternal life does not come to us without cost. The cost was Jesus’ one time sacrifice for all time for all mankind. Keep the eyes on the prize, as it were!  And realize that that prize does not come free. We have to run the race set before us and follow Jesus in order to receive our prize of eternal life. We have to be constantly focusing on this fact. 

When times get really hard, and it is tempting to give up sometimes; that is when we must redouble our efforts and focus our end goal, remaining on the path towards Heaven.. In order to stay focused on the path, we must always remember the end, the arrival in Heaven will outweigh all of the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears we shed in this life. If we but stay the course, our time after this will be unfathomably wonderful.

Our eyes should be focused on the finish line, not our “competition.”  The only thing which counts is that we each cross the finish line.  It does not matter who our competition is, as we are not competing with anyone for our destination. We have only to concern ourselves with God’s will and focusing on getting ourselves towards the right destination.  For only you have an input in which area you will go. Not the final input, but an input nonetheless. 

So how do we run the race?  

With our eyes focused tightly on the finish line, not on those around us, wondering are they doing better than we are?  That is not a useful question.  Christianity is not about competition, about being other people to the finish line. In fact, it is about helping others around us to the finish line to the best of our abilities and if they are willing to let us help them.  

The useful question is, “Am I doing the best I can?” And we have to answer that question; if we are not doing our best, then we need to change it. And, remember this is a Team Effort. We have to want to win, and in order to win the race set before us; we have to perform actions. We need to act upon the Word of Scripture, the message, which is to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ and preach it to all nations as Christ commanded.  We must first start with our neighbors and work our way outward. It must be a team effort, we cannot all do it alone.  Each person in God’s Army has a specific talent and task assigned to them to complete their assigned mission here on Earth. We need support along the way, especially when things get tough, we need our Christian buddies to give us moral support and encouragement from the Word.   We want the Christian Team to win.  We need to give each team member all the help we can. And we need to be welcoming to each outsider who join the team, and treat them like the lifelong members of the Team. So, with that in mind, we must DO our best and not just say it, and we do that by acting upon the Word, not just reading it, but acting.

We are all so far from perfect that Holier than Thouis pretty damning praise.  Don’t even go there.  The best you can really do is not to be as evil as another, even that is pretty doubtful. But, we can do our best for our Lord; that is what really matters.

The Gospel for today, the very important parable of the vineyard, also gives us very good advice on the conduct of our daily lives and contains a crucial key to happiness.  There is the lesson that the deathbed conversion gains the same prize of eternal life as the lifelong follower, but there is a lot more in it for everyday life.  A person who comes to Christ late in life receives the same eternal benefits as a person who followed Christ from the age of reason.

It is a fine lesson in “buyer’s remorse” or coveting of jobs or similar concepts.  If you got a good deal, it does not change because someone else got a “better” deal. Take what you got, go forth and be happy.  Don’t complain because somebody else got the same deal as you did sooner. One meaning of this parable is that “cradle” Christians are no more likely to go to heaven than this morning’s convert.  They just get to enjoy the Christian experience longer. However, you should not wait until the last minute to join the gang, your time here might end before you get around to it.   So, don’t wait until tomorrow to act, do it today while you still have time!

Sometimes people act like being a Christian is an unpleasant experience that they will do when they get a round TUIT.  It is not.  Christians aren’t perfect, they just have more fun being imperfect and imperfectly trying to improve!

Christ gave us eternal life.  But, we have to accept it.  Once you accept it, start living as if you will live forever.  You will and you will have to live with your actions forever!  So, Act early and Act often! 

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

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

 LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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:

… keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power …

In the Collect, we are asking God to keep His People (that is US) in line with His Wishes, not our own, so we might be defended by Him.  We cannot expect Him to defend us from the slings and arrows of this world if we will not line up behind Him.  This is a pretty simple concept, but one that escapes so many.   We find God being blamed by people who do what they want, not what He wants them to do. 

The truth of the matter is that the blame rather lies within us. We are the cause of all our problem due to our inherent sinful fallen nature.  We are asking for His Help and intervention in our lives, that we might be cured of this dreadful sickness known as Sin. It is not a surprise a lot of Jesus's miracles were healing of various long suffering people with sickness. In a way, they are allegorical, in that He heals us of our sins, as He healed them of their physical sickness. His miracles shows us He will heal our terminal condition known as Sin, if we will but let Him into our heart. The key word here is let into our hearts. We have to be ready, willing and able to receive Him into our hearts that we might have a transformation of our hearts, souls and minds.

Paul reminds us that God wants us to treat others as we would be treated; having “a heart of compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another…”  Jesus forgave us, stood in our place, accounted us (who are guilty of capital crimes) as perfect.  Yet, we want to hold a grudge against someone for leaving us alone a few minutes too long. How is that right?

In addition to being forgiving, we are to be sharing of His Word and joyful while doing it!  Let us think about Psalm 100, the Jubilate Deo:

 BE joyful in the Lord, all ye lands: * serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song. 
Be ye sure that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; * we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 
O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; * be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name. 
For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting; * and his truth endureth from generation to generation. 

Does this psalm not give a lot of insight into how we are to live our lives?
We learn from this psalm that we are to be a joyful people giving thanks to the Lord always. We have to always remember that it is He that created us and not us, we are not self-made men. We are God created men and it would do us well to always remember that.

Paul calls for us to let the Peace of God that passes all understanding, enter into our hearts to transform our hearts, souls and minds becoming the men and women of Christ that God would have us be. We have to of our own free will choose this for ourselves. God is not going to choose it for us. We have to take action and let Him into our hearts.

So, what if we choose not to live our lives God’s Way, but rather our way? The Gospel covers this very subject.  Did you ever notice that weeds normally flourish far above the crop plants?  While they oft succeed in growing taller and quicker, they are not useful.  A wise farmer will let them abide in the field and separate them out at the harvest. God is that wise farmer, who will sift us out before His judgment seat.  This is what Jesus is referring to in the Gospel. God is that farmer who will patiently wait until the end days to make that final determination. 

Let us not wait for that final determination to note we were on the wrong course all along.  So, while we still have time, let us repent and turn back to Him and give thanks for His mercy! Jesus reminds us that our lives here on earth can be that way.  Those who follow the Prince of this World oft soar in earthly riches far above us, but when their time here is done, their destination is not the same as ours. In the end we shall be soaring high above them in Heaven, while they will be in the Pit.

Follow God’s will and you will do well enough in earthly riches, which are transient in nature, but we will have for …ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  (St. Matt. vi. 19, 20)

It is our actions here that count, what we do in response to the eternal life Jesus has given us.  Will we throw it away or use it wisely?

Error is error, wrong is not right.  But, a person’s final destination is up to God, not us. During the journey of life through the time space continuum, we need to do our best to keep ourselves and those around us moving towards God, not away from Him.  The direction is always clear, sometimes we just do not want to read the signs. So, let us trust and turn to God, our infallible navigator, if we will but listen to Him and act upon his instructions we shall navigate through every storm and trial in our lives with the least pain.

If we understand we are less than perfect, actually far less than imperfect, we have a good start.  We need God in our lives to give us direction.  We need His guidance to direct our ACTION.

Read the Bible, find out what He wants you to do, then Do It.  What can you do today to carry out His Will?  There are a multitude of things you can DO to carry out His Will, but the question is, “Will you?”

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

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 knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations …

In the Collect, we acknowledge that God knows the dangers, toils and snares with which we must contend, which so often keep us from the upright acknowledgement and defense of that which is true and correct.  With these infirmities, our only hope is that certain hope of His help to support us, not to get out of the problems, but to make our way through them to His Glory.

Paul points out in his epistle that as we are all here on Earth, earthly rulers are subject to God and His Rules and they ultimately need to defer to Him for their authority, not look to themselves for that authority. Their authority derives from God not from man.  He points out that whosoever rejects the powers or the knowledge that the powers they are given come from God are rejecting/resisting God himself. In this day in age that is become more and more common in the leadership of countries nationwide. We can even see it in the Governors of California and New York who are actively trying to get legislation passed that is in effect rejecting God and His Principles.

Of course, to paraphrase Solomon, this is nothing new. Man has always sought to supplant God as the ultimate authority on earth. This is the whole basis behind both communism and National Socialism. There are slight differences between both mainly the means of production, but the end result is very similar in both.  They both seek to supplant God and His Authority here on earth, and make the State a non-God based church on earth, where instead of worshiping God, they worship man, basically worshipping Satan instead.

Paul says if we are doing good then we need not be afraid of the power from God that is on loan to the rulers who are ministers of God in a way. The only people who need be afraid of them are evildoers, who the ruler is appointed to use the sword to bring before God for justice. However, if the rulers that be are not punishing evil doers put people who are good doers, then we know they are not worthy of the power that God has bestowed upon them. Again, this is becoming more and more apparent across the globe. We are not in the business of condemning people’s souls to one eternal destination or the other, that is God’s job. But, Paul points out that we can arrange for the meeting to happen, when people violate God’s most sovereign laws.

Paul goes on to say that through the authority invested by them in God, people need to pay the rulers tribute, to which it is due, the customs to custom, fear to fear, honor to honor. It goes very much hand in hand with what Jesus said on the subject “Render unto Caesar’s which is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” There is respect which ought to be paid to the rightful people who are the representatives of God ruling the people. That respect ends however, when those representatives reject God’s authority and are no longer worthy of the respect.

This also goes back to the honor thy father and thy mother concept. As long as they are doing their best to raise you up in a Christian way and showing by example to follow Christ to get to heaven, then they are worthy of that honor. But if they are doing the opposite, then they are not worthy of the honor.  It is still worth behaving in a Christian manner to both unfaithful rulers and parents, but realize they become unworthy of that honor when they reject God and His Authority.

Christianity is not a solitary religion, one all about the individual, though it certainly depends on individuals as part of the Team lead by Christ to carry it out.  God has given each of us varying talents and varying capabilities.  We must each of us do that for the Church that which we do better than others and respect those who we work with.  No power comes from God, rather special responsibilities, leaders who lead with His Will in mind must be accorded the respect they are due by virtue of their position.  They must also lead with His Will in mind, for a leader following the ways of this world and the Prince of Darkness is not worthy of respect or followership.  We must put faith in those to whom faith is due.

Faith and action, is what Christianity is all about. Christ’s actions upon the cross the solid base that our faith is based upon. His death and resurrection is the key principle behind Christianity. Actions are a crucial element of our faith. Christ’s faith accounts us as perfect before God because of His Actions. The centurion of this week’s Gospel is a symbol of faith and what appears to be inaction is his action.  He is also the person for whom our parish draws its name.  The centurion was the basic leader symbol of the Roman Empire.  A group of eight to ten soldiers was led by a Contubern.  Ten Contubernium formed a Centuria, which was led by a Centurion.  Six to ten of these formed a Cohort, also led by a Centurion.  He was an important man, able to reward or punish at will.  He knew power and how to wield it.

When the Centurion came to Jesus, he knew who He was and His Power.  When the Centurion told Jesus of his servant’s illness, the Centurion knew all Jesus had to do was will the wellness and it was done.

There was no question in his mind, the Centurion knew Jesus. His action was the seeming inaction of acknowledging his unworthiness and telling Jesus, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.”

We are all unworthy.  The best of us is not worthy that He should come under our roof; yet we know if He will speak The Word only, our souls shall be healed and all will be accounted well before God.  That is all He asks, “Let Me speak The Word only.”

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.

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