Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 28, 2019

First Sunday after Easter

Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and Scriptural readings for this week. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

… given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth

In the Collect, we acknowledge by the sacrifice made on Good Friday by the One and Only Perfect Man, a single sacrifice, made one time, for all mankind, for all time by our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ of God, we have eternal life.  Malice and wickedness are pervasive; like leavening, that is yeast, mixed into bread dough, they permeate our being, worming their way into the most remote corners of our souls, hearts and minds. Tiny, wanting only to be fed so they can grow and distort our being.  We need God’s Help, in the form of the Holy Ghost, to root out all malice and wickedness so we might serve Him with pure souls, hearts and minds.  Without that help, we are destined to fail.  On the other hand, with God’s help all things are possible.

In his general Epistle, Saint John continues that thought that without God’s help, that is being re-born in Him, as Saint Paul says, becoming or putting on the New Man, we are destined to failure.   Saint John makes it clear the entity we refer to as God is a Triune Being, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  What he does not make clear is the relationship between the Three.  But, that is not surprising, no place else is it really clear either.  God is comprised of three separate entities who are of one substance and form a single entity, each has its function.  Jesus Christ is our key to life and the Holy Ghost is our key to understanding and accepting Jesus Christ.  Christ, who was there at the beginning, will be there at our end; the Holy Ghost who breathed life into this world is our key to finding Christ in our hearts.  God has made it so.

The Holy Ghost is not often talked about in the church, yet He is the key to understanding.  God sent us the Holy Ghost that we might have:

·     Comfort
·     Understanding
·     Patience
·     Insight
·     Perseverance
·     Courage
·     Sympathy

He is our key to finding Jesus in our souls, hearts and minds.  Without His Guidance, Scripture seems a poorly written fairy tale, with His Guidance we find Truth, the Truth that is our Lord and Savior.  

When John relates the story of Jesus coming in to the Upper Room, note three things:

·     He came into a closed room in bodily form;
·     Then gave them His Peace;
·     He breathed the Holy Ghost upon them.

The entry into the closed room is of interest.  When we leave the Shadowlands, we will gain an optimized body with shape and form, but as Jesus demonstrated things are different in the Real World.  Different can be better or worse.  In this case, He demonstrates the better.  We will no longer be halt, blind and maimed, we will live as God has meant for us.  Quite a nice feeling.

Jesus gave them His Peace. Not peace like the hippies, or sex, drugs and rock and roll.  This is a totally different concept.  Jesus brings us, like those disciples, the peace of mind and soul which comes with giving all our worry, sadness and terror to Him.  He leaves in His wake not confusion, but order and wellbeing.  With Him in our hearts we cannot fail at anything that needs be done.  His Peace. This is a thing not lightly thought of. It is certainly not the hand shaking service interrupting greeting of some churches.  They say ‘peace’ when they mean ‘hi.’  This Peace is what we are looking for and have been looking for since we came into this world, for it is our passport out.

That brings us to the Holy Ghost.  He is the breath of life, not just physical, whereas to die is to give up the Ghost, which really means to have our soul leave our body for heaven.   He is our spiritual life, for without Him in our souls, hearts and minds we cannot see the narrow road to the summit.  Without Him we see only the broad even way which gently curves downward and gets smoother and smoother as it nears the Pit.  The Holy Ghost is the key to knowing our Lord!

Without the Holy Ghost, we are lost.  With Him we find and join Jesus and are found.  Then we can act accordingly and enjoy our time here on earth to the extent it is to be enjoyed.  

Note the parting line of this Scripture: … He breathed on them, and saith unto them,Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.  Jesus gave this power to those present, He did not establish an intermediary priesthood. The Triune God is the only one who has the power to remit us of our sins.  And, He does when we ask and act in accordance with the request.

There is much joy and satisfaction to be found in proper action.

When the time comes, how will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter 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:

… who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect…

In the Collect, we acknowledge God sent His Son to be our Savior.  Think about that, the Creator, Lord and Master of the Universe sent His only Son to not only live amongst us and minister and guide us but to give His earthly life as a one time sacrifice for our sin that we might be accounted as perfect in our final accounting, the resurrection.  Today is the day of His Resurrection, where we celebrate His triumphant return from his descent into Hell after he died on the Cross and battled Satan for our souls. Not a lot of people think about the suffering Christ endured on our behalf after His painful death upon the cross. When HE died His sufferings had only just begun as He descended into darkness itself, Satan’s dominion to do battle with Satan for our souls. We do not know much about the particular details of that battle, but it is good enough for us to know that He triumphed and won our eternal freedom. He freed us from the shackles from Death. God valued His Son exceedingly, but consider then how much He loves us in turn to allow His Precious Only Begotten Son to die a painful death and to do battle with the Devil for our eternity.

The Collect also points out that we need God’s special grace to prevent, that is to go before us, and to set good desires in our mind and overcome the natural evil desires. This is a point that not a lot of churches make these days as they have been overcome by the whims of the World. We need His presence within our hearts and minds if we are to follow Him.

Jesus set an example of humility and patience, both exceedingly rare qualities in us. That example is extremely difficult for us to follow without God’s help. This is the reason God sent the Holy Ghost to be here with us.  The Holy Ghost was sent to us that we might have understanding, comfort, strength, perseverance, courage, inspiration; all qualities we lack without the help of God.  With Jesus’ sacrifice and the help of the Holy Ghost to follow Him, turning our backs on this world, we can be part of His resurrection. The resurrection itself sets a pattern that we should follow. We must first die, that is to stop our sinning, then rise again, that is to live, with humility and patience like the example Jesus set for us. We must resurrect our lives and transform them into something new. There was a reason God set Easter in the springtime. Not only was the time of His death and rising again, but it came at a time where the flowers bloomed anew, having been dead in winter, as Christ had been dead, and rose again, just as those flowers bloom again. This is very symbolic of His Death and Resurrection and it is no coincidence Easter happened during this time. 

Jesus set the standard of obedience to God’s will and He expects us to follow Him.  His standard is an extremely difficult act for us to follow. natural inclination is not set to follow His will but ours. That is the main reason for the difficulty. It is hard!  However, when you stop and think about what Jesus went through, is it as hard as His Trials and Death and Battling Satan? No matter who you are, the answer is never going to be yes. For no matter what bad times we go through, it is nothing compared to what He went through. And in the end, the path we must follow will still be easier than if we refuse to follow Him and try and forge our own path. We will be far happier if we follow his example and lead a righteous and steadfast life, full of grace and humility, as well as patience. 

In our lives, it is important to think about Jesus’ example before we do what we want to do.  Is what you are wanting in line with Jesus’ message? Think about the answer. If you let the Holy Ghost in to your heart you will know the answer, you will know what you are supposed to do. You may not like it, but you will know it. Which is more comforting than the World’s way, which seems to go off in every which direction, and they are never certain about anything. However, we can be certain about what we know, what believe and we can translate that certainty into our actions. This is because we follow the ultimate unwavering source of truth, God Himself.

Jesus knew what was coming, how much it would hurt both His Body and Soul as He went through with the crucifixion and subsequent descent in to Hell.   Yet, He also knew this was God’s Will that we might live.  If He did this for you, how can you not follow Him wherever His Will takes you? If He was willing to do that for all of us, then how can we not repay Him to the best of our ability? His Sacrifice demands that we repay Him to the best of our ability, by the sheer nature of it; his perfection being offered in place of our imperfection.

These days people have forgotten how special Jesus’s Death and Resurrection is to us. It is a sign of the times, perhaps maybe even close to the end times that Churches have fallen into apostasy and have in fact are even actively denying His Ministry, His Death and His Resurrection. Jesus commanded us to always remember His Death and Passion, that we might be partakers of His Heavenly Kingdom. 

If we do not remember His Death and Passion, can we truly be partakers of His Heavenly Kingdom?

How can we?  

He is asking us to act and if we do not choose to act for Him then we cannot be truly on His Side. It is not enough just to ‘have’ faith, we need to back our faith up with actions and choose to act For Him, to remember His Ministry, Death and Resurrection and do our best with the help of the Holy Ghost to follow the standard He set.

Jesus set an example difficult to follow even with the help of the Holy Ghost, but impossible to follow without the help of the Holy Ghost. Our eternal life does not come to us for free. It was paid with the blood of God’s only begotten Son. We have a debt to Him that we cannot even close to repaying, but we can start by choosing to follow Him each and every day. Where we fall short, we get back up the next day and do better than the previous day.

We must remember His Example when times get harder and more difficult as it becomes closer to the end of this world and the beginning of our eternity with God. Let us act for Him and make it known that we reject mammon and embrace the example of Jesus Christ. We may lose friends and even some family as a result of standing with God, but the consequences for not standing with God are far worse than losing shallow people in your life.

When the time comes, how will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm 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:

… thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection…

In the Collect, we acknowledge God sent His Son to be our Savior.  Think about that, the Creator, Lord and Master of the Universe sent His only Son to live amongst us and not just provide us with instruction and leadership, but to give His earthly life as a one time sacrifice for our sin that we might be accounted as perfect in our final accounting, the resurrection.  How much did God value His Son?  Consider what Paul tells us - Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Reading this, let us consider how much God valued His Son and how much He values us that He sent His Son here to teach us to guide us, to love us, and finally to give His Life for us that we might be free from the bonds of sin and death. He was God’s only begotten son like John 3:16 says. Consider how precious of a being He is to God, then realize how much He loves us, that He sent His Only Begotten son that we should not perish in hellfire, but spend our eternity with Him and His Son. He let His Son undergo tremendous physical pain, pain that we should rightly have ourselves in this life and in eternity, and paid for all of our transgressions.  He humbled himself to a commoner’s death, and not just that of any commoner, but that of a thief. He effectively took our place physically on the cross, physically in the sense we are sinners, and as Paul points out in Romans, the wages for sin is death. Jesus effectively replaced us and took the wages for sin on our behalf so we might have everlasting life. 

The Collect calls us to follow the example Jesus set in His actions of His Death and Resurrection, and also calls us to embody His great humility and His great patience, that we might follow the upward narrow path towards heaven and be partakers of His Resurrection. Jesus’s great humility, humbling himself, the being who created this planet, to die for us on the cross, laying down His Life for ours, is an example we must strive to emulate in our own lives, to the best of our abilities.

If we follow His Example and do our best to emulate His humility and patience, we too can be a part of His Resurrection. We will be a part of our own resurrection of sorts. To accomplish this, we have to have our selfish selves die and be replaced with the unselfish self, which we can achieve through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we need to stop our sinful behavior and replace that behavior with more Godly behavior. 

Jesus set the ultimate standard for holding to God’s Will. He is the ultimate example for us. His entire ministry can be seen as actions. He just did not just have nice speeches and messages, He physically lived His Message, which can be seen through His Actions. He expects us to do likewise. It is not good enough to just talking the talk, but we need to be walking the walk. It is one thing to say you are going to do something, it is quite another thing to actually perform those actions.  Before you perform any sort of action, take a moment and stop and think about it. Ask if it is what God wants, if it lives up to something Jesus would do?  If it isn’t, then don’t do it. If it is, then do it.  If we are certain in our beliefs in the Gospel and know the concepts of the Gospel, we will translate that certainty into our actions which will strengthen our faith.

Jesus knew ahead of time where, how and when He would die. He knew with a 100 percent certainty it was going to be a physically and spiritually painful death, Yet, He also knew this was God’s Will that we might live.  If He did this for you, how can you not follow Him wherever His Will takes you? And remember His Example, that He knew there would be physically and spiritually painful consequences yet acted anyway. He is the ultimate example for us to follow in perilous situations.

Recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on this day so many years ago.  Only Jesus knew of the upcoming crucifixion; everyone else, including Jews, Romans and His followers, thought he was making a triumphant entrance in to the city to take control of things and kick the Roman occupation force out. It was almost a full moon, this was the year of the Messiah according to Daniel.  The natural events were lining up as Scripture had predicted which preceded the arrival of the Messiah.  Jesus chose the route into the city, through the King’s Gate.  The people saw Him coming and met him at the Mount of Olives.  When He came in through the King’s Gate, the people were expecting to see their future earthly king. However, they were incorrect, who they were seeing was and is their heavenly king. Jesus had no intentions of establishing a Kingdom of this World. He was looking for followers for the Kingdom of the Next World, of Heaven.

Sunday was a long awaited day for which Jews had waited four centuries.  The Messiah had finally come, at the time predicted by scripture.  They were under the mistaken perception that He had come to free them from the burdensome and cruel yoke of Roman rule. the week went on, they found that was not to be.  He did not come to rule this world, but to bring us to His World. He came to give them the key to eternal salvation. This is a far more important gift than to have power temporarily for the short time of earthly life. This is more precious than any earthly jewel, riches or rainment one can ever find here on planet Earth. He came to take them from this veil of tears to a state of perfect freedom. They wanted someone to throw the Romans out and all God sent them was the key to eternal life.  What a disappointment!  But to us, it is not a disappointment.

It is a gift of great joy, the fact is we should be by all rights dead and headed for the pit, instead headed to a kingdom of joyfulness and laughter and all pleasant things, and a world that will be far better than our pitiful shadowland here. This is indeed the most valuable of all gifts we will ever receive in our lifetime. 

By the way, the Chief Priests, who had so much invested in their 613 laws, likely searched far and wide for the crowd to convict Jesus of the crimes they imagined against their system.  Their system, not God’s.  Remember, there are none so blind as those who will not see.  They would not see because what was being shown to them was a new way that would interfere with their comfortable way of living.  A new way that asked of them, no demanded of them, accountability unto God for their actions.  Know the crowd was notaself-forming group naturally set on condemning Jesus, but a handpicked gang. At the same time, many of those in the crowd who condemned Him the morning of Good Friday were in the crowd that welcomed Him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  What a difference five days can make.

Make no mistake, we are that crowd.  And, like Pilate, no matter what we say, we cannot wash our hands of the responsibility.  Thus, we must separate ourselves from the crowd.  Separate, that is to make ourselves holy, set aside.

When the time comes, how will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion 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:

… thy people; … by thy great goodness … may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul …

In the Collect, we acknowledge without God’s great goodness and divine intervention, we cannot be preserved in either body or soul.  This is a constant truth through ought the Bible and the New Testament in particular.  Without God’s great goodness we simply cannot be preserved. What does asking for God’s great goodness mean for us? It means when we ask we might be governed and thus preserved by His great goodness, we are in effect asking for His Guidance for us, so we can be preserved in both body and soul. We acknowledge God is the ultimate good and is the source of all truth, and we need His Help if we are to succeed. This concept is constant throughout all the collects. It is constant because it is the truth. We can only follow the narrow uphill path towards heaven with His Goodness and His Guidance.  As always, if we are left to our own devices and desires, we are lost.  Guidedmeans we need to ask, then listen to what He Tells us, then actually follow those instructions.   It is one thing to listen, it is another thing to actually pay attention, understand and act upon those instructions. The main word that describes Jesus’ ministry on Earth is action. Without action, we do not have evidence to back up that we have faith, Jesus’s faith. For if we have Jesus’s faith, we would follow in His Example and act. As the ending line of my sermons state, it is by our action we are known. 

Following instructions can be hard at times but it must be done nevertheless. For if we do not follow His Instructions, we will never make it. We certainly can’t get to heaven on our own undependable and faulty sense of direction. We need His guidance through the Holy Spirit in order to make any sort of progress on the road to heaven.
If we are looking to Him for guidance, we then need look to Him for safety.  Safety meaning onlythe safety of our soul, our eternal life. It does not mean safety from dangers to the body here on Earth. The body is just a temporary shell for our soul to be carried in while we do our best to do what God asks of us. We aren’t asking God for safety from the dangers to the body; but more importantly, we are asking safety for our soul. When our bodies fail and die here on earth, it is not a big deal compared to what happens to our souls after Death. What we need above all is protection from what we deserve by our own nature; eternal damnation. That is a more important safety than here on the temporary physical plane. This existence is only temporary and will be over in a blink of an eye. Eternity is far longer than that.  So, the safety of us on this plane of existence is not nearly as important as in eternity. 

Our only means of being accounted as perfect when we come before God is to rely on the sacrifice and intermediary priesthood of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to account us as perfect before God on that final day. Christ has replaced the intermediary priesthood of the Jews with himself our one and only High Intermediary Priest. Your AOC ministers, while officially titled as priests, are not intermediary priests! The day of the intermediary priests have come and gone for us with the Old Testament in the past. We only need Christ, there are no middle men between us and Jesus.  He is our Savior, our Leader, our Teacher, our Master, our Example! 

Christ came to succeed the Old Covenant marked by sacrifices of innocent animals; killing off animals in an effort to atone for our sins really did not do the job. It has always required Jesus’s sacrifice. The Old Covenant simply existed because it had to be on Earth first to prepare the people for the coming of the New. He established the New Covenant marked by His death on the Cross for our sins; this has done the job intended. Before the world began God knew of both the New and the Old Covenants. He knew He had to set in place the Old before He could set in place Jesus and the New Covenant. People simply would not be prepared for Jesus’s message otherwise.

Going back to the concept of action, not just diction, Jesus commanded us to follow this concept by spreading the Gospel, the story of Jesus’ death and sacrifice for us for all time, and for all mankind, to all nations. In this, He said very clearly if we are His followers, we will doas He asks, in acting for Him. Action, not just diction, is what He is looking for. So, let us act for Him! 

In the Gospel, Jesus explained to the Pharisees before Abraham had even been conceived, He was. In fact, Jesus was the one who created this Earth, so He has been around since before the beginning of the planet. The Pharisees could or would not grasp in their heads Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. They chose to try to destroy His ministry rather than follow Him. Time and time again we see them confronted with the truth Jesus offers and they always choose to reject it rather than embrace the truth.

This is a very common pattern with the enemies of God. Their hearts have been blinded by their love of their selves, pride and greed. They cannot see the simple truths we see as followers of God. They look down upon us and think we are the ignorant ones, when reality is the other way around. 

They cannot, or will not, see that the priceless gift Jesus came to offer us. Jesus came to save our souls and give us eternal life, eternal life starting right then.  Not just for the Jews and Israel, but the whole wide world, Jew, Gentile, Greek and all others.  Jesus brought salvation and life to the entire world.  That was not what the Pharisees were looking so hard for with their magnifying glasses as they examined Torah and The Law.  They were looking for what would be only a temporary power, power on this physical plane. This pales in comparison to safety and happiness forever, for all eternity.  Pharisees were not big picture people, and as Calvin told Hobbes, We big picture people rarely become historians or Pharisees, I might add.  The Pharisees were very obviously not big picture people; they misinterpreted the prophecies of the Messiah. Regardless, even though some people chose to misunderstand the prophecies, He came and He made that one sacrifice, at one time, for all mankind, for all time. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life[1].

Who is Jesus?  Our Savior?  Indeed.  But, more He has been since before the beginning of the world, for He is One with I Am.

Through His Actions, we are saved.

Do ye likewise:


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]If the text of this sentence seems familiar, it is John 3.16, probably the most widely quoted text of the Bible.