Verse of the Day

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity


Rev Jack's sermon can be viewed on video RIGHT HERE!

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action

Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider the words of the Collect, “… thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works …”


The first thing to consider when you look at today’s Collect is a word: prevent.  Prevent is a word that has many meanings, and at least one has fallen out of general usage as time has gone on.  This is one of them.  In this case the word prevent means to go before.  Before you object to archaic words, consider this is a current word, it just has a use you may not have been aware of and now you are!  What a bonus for this week!


So, we ask God that His Grace, His Love, His Power, His Help may go before and after us to protect us and guide us that we might desire to do what He wants us to do.  Pretty much a re-wording of a lot of the Collects.  Why would that be?  Pretty simple, our biggest failing is we are wont to do what we want!  We are creatures with free will and are not wont to exercise it for God or good. Imperfect creatures with free will is a very dangerous combination.  We need His Help to go before and after us to guide us through life, doing what we need to do, not necessarily what we want to do. One of the harder lessons from Scriptures is that what we need to do is not usually as fun as what we want to do, but it is better for us in the end. More importantly, what we need to do is aligned with what God wants for us. So, we require His help if we are to do the things we need to do.  


We tend to sometimes think we know ourselves better, however that is simply false. God designed and built each and every one of us. Do we truly think we know more than our Creator? That is the foolishness of our natural inclination talking.  If we stop to think, we realize, with the help of the Holy Ghost, God truly knows what is best for us and it will be a lot better for us if we listen to him.  If we follow what He wants for us, we are guaranteed to have good results in the long run. It does not mean we will not suffer in the short term; however it means if we follow God's will for us, then we will come out ahead in the end, in our eternal life. In the end will it be our will that is followed or God’s will? 


As a matter of course, we will make mischief and or trouble, some of us more than others. God is the ever patient father who has to gently warn us and allow us to experience the consequences of our inclination to sin, in order to learn not to do it. This is His form of correction. He seldom corrects us directly, but allows us to be corrected by our consequences of our bad decisions. If we never got to experience the natural results of our mistakes, we would never learn. When bad things happen as a result of our doing, it is not His fault that's it happened, but our fault for not having done what we were supposed to do because it was “too difficult.” 


The other part of the collect talks about asking God to make us be continually given to do good works. This means to put His Will into our heart and give us a desire to continually do good works for others, by given, the collect means to put a desire into our hearts to do God’s Will here on Earth and part of doing His Will on Earth is performing good actions, otherwise known as good works.  If we are followers of Christ, as a matter of course, we will perform such good works as those of which we are capable. However, we cannot perform these good works of our own accord; we need His guiding spirit, so we ask Him to shine and come into our hearts and help us have the mindset to do those good works for Him. 


Through consequences of our sinful actions, we know that we shouldn’t do it again.  We know, often very clearly, what we want; God knows, always very clearly, what we need.  There is almost always a distinct difference between what we want and what we need. God knows what we want is usually not good for us. But what we need is always good for us. 


But we do not often know what God wants for us, so we have to first pray to Him to find out what He wants, then the most critical step of the communications is we have to listen to what He says and once we listen, then act upon what He says.  He is there, like the rubrics to guide us along our paths in our daily life. So, we need to ask God every day, every time, for help to do our duty. Every day, every time, He will answer our questions, we just need to open our hearts, souls, minds and ears to Him, and after hearing His Answer, act upon it


So, what does Paul tell us in his letter to us? He is callings to a new life, different from our old life.  He is calling us to reform and to turn a new leaf so to speak. We shed our old clothes, as it were, like reptiles shedding their old skin and put on the brand new armor of light, new helmet, new boots, new everything. We throw off the manner in which we acted before, brashly and sinfully, and put on a new cloak, that of righteousness. A life in which we act in a manner worthy of the better life to which we have been called by Christ and for which He gave His life. We are to act in accordance with the new way, to desist from sinning and to do good things for people and for Him. The part about ceasing and desisting from sin is one of the most difficult aspects of putting aside one’s old life. But, it can be done. If Paul can do it, so can we. 


This is made possible by the Holy Ghost, who is our lifeline to God our Father. Paul, of all people, knows the importance of setting aside your old life, as Saul did; as Paul he asks us to put God first in our lives, to put ourselves last.  He even changed his name to reflect his state as a new man under Our Lord’s leadership. He reminds us, There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  The key to a successful life is to put the important things at the top of your To Do List. And, notice it is a To Do List, not a To Think About or To Wait a While List.  It is not a I’ll Get a Round To It List, or What I Don’t Want to Do List.  What is more important than God? It is all about prioritization, putting God ahead of your wants and desires. 


When Luke relates the parable of the feast, it is more than just a seating diagram. I liken it to the tale of the publican and the Pharisee. When Christ talks about the man who exalts himself and sits too high at the wedding and thus must be abased, that would be the Pharisee. When Christ then talks about the man who sits low, and is raised to the higher station, I think of the publican, who smote his breast and would not even raise up his eyes to heaven. We have to be the publican in our dealings with not only God, but all people, rather than our natural tendency of being the Pharisee. We should not be one of those selfish individuals who always causes grief for others because he is blind to his own faults and only thinks of himself. Again, as with the ceasing from sin, this is one of the harder things we have to do. But it must be done, no matter how we feel about it. So, let us turn to our Lord to help with it, because He alone can help us. He can only help us if we are truly willing with our hearts, souls and minds. We have to be willing to act and do actions, and not just say it.  


It is very possible to do the good deeds and have fun doing them. The time we spent in worship with the other ministers and their wives at the AOC Conventions in the past proves this. Doing good things for other people and being with other believers gives me some of the greatest happiness I have ever felt. This comes from the Holy Ghost, from being inspired by Him, around other believers. Wherever two or three or gathered, Christ is there also. It is a wonderful feeling wherever He 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

[1]                 Prevent is a word that has many uses, and at least one has fallen out of general usage as time has gone on.  This is one of them.  In this case the word prevent means to go before.  Before you object to archaic words, consider this is a current word, it just has a use you may not have been aware of and now you are!  What a bonus for this week!

[2]                 “you all”, normally pronounced “ya’ll”, is clear proof Paul was from the South.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity


Rev Jack's sermon can be viewed on video RIGHT HERE.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action

Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider the words of the Collect, “…let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; 
and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness …”


When the Collect talks about the church, just like last week, it is not talking about buildings; it is talking about us.   Each of us; all of us and together.  We need Gods help (pity) to keep the group of us together following His Will, for without His Help (Holy Ghost) we are doomed to utter failure.  We can see this in the church today. The collect says we need His pity to cleanse our church of error and keep it on the straight and narrow. For without the cleansing effect of His pity and help of the Holy Ghost, error creeps in and corrupts the Church. 


We can see this today with many churches leaving the established doctrine of 2 millennia to try to be cool and attract more people. Their efforts are in vein as we are called to be separated from this world and not a part of it, to be holy. They are becoming un-holy and it shows in their more paganistic doctrines. You can barely distinguish some of these churches doctrines from what more worldly or other religions believe and they can hardly be considered a Christian church. God is about quality of believers and not about quantity! These churches covet quantity over quality and are willing do compromise on non comprisable beliefs in order to do so. They gain the world but they lose their souls to do so. It does not sound like a good trade off to me.


The problem for many people is Heaven is at the end of a hard and narrow uphill trail; the easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.  That seemingly easy way leads to The Pit. This easy downhill trail snares a lot of people and there will be sadly some that never realize this. It can ensare anybody so we have to be on our guard lest we start down that path ourselves. This proves the truth of this collect, that without His help, we are doomed. With His help, we are set for success for evermore.  He offers; do we accept?


Saint Paul points out if we will open our hearts to God, He will send the Holy Ghost to fill our hearts with Love, Courage, Inspiration, Tenacity and Confidence, all of the good traits that will help our character development. Once the Holy Ghost enters into us, we will know the full dimensions of Christ, the height, width and depth of His love for us, and this fullness will fill us to our content, and we will want to spread that Good News and Love of Him to others.  Without the Holy Ghost, we are doomed. But with the Holy Ghost acting in us, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish for Him. We have to recognize this and make the decision to allow Him into our hearts.


Allowing His love for us to enter into our hearts is part of the Good News. The Good News is that He died for us so we might have eternal life, a happier life here and a happier life after our life here.  But the key is we have to first open our hearts to God. We cannot have any of these positive characteristics if we do not allow Him in. We have to be humble and realize we cannot get through life without these characteristics, which means we cannot have a good and successful life without His Help. 


He offers all of these things for our benefit, so we will be successful for Him. We have to accept this offer by opening our hearts to Him.  One of my favorite cartoon strips Calvin and Hobbes, oft has great moral lessons.   Calvins dad so very often reminds Calvin that doing ones duty in the face of adversity builds character.  It also strengths the soul building trust in God.  If we will open our hearts to Him, our ears will hear the command “… Arise.  When we rise, we rise with the confidence of immortals and can conquer any obstacle. We will have died in our old sinful ways and be resurrected like our Lord in a new spirit and a new birth of everlasting freedom. But, without an open heart, our ears will never hear the command directed to our soul, “… Arise.  We will be dead to eternity. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. 


All Jesus asks is that we follow Him.  That is all follow Him.  But, words mean something; the word follow is very important.  We have to trust God is like a perfect CFI[1] and if we follow his instructions at the right time, we will keep ourselves from physical and spiritual harm. Like the CFI he is here to keep us from mentally and spiritually harming ourselves. If we will listen to His instructions, we will keep our mental and spiritual selves intact and be a lot happier for it. 


We need recognize who has the ability, the power, the perfection in leadership and have that trust to say, "You lead; I'll follow." I believe that is what Jesus expects from us in regard to our entire life. We may get out of position or even go lost wingman on the odd occasion, but he expects us to Our very best to follow His lead and stay in position.  Hard to do if your eye is not padlocked on Him.


As ministers of our Lord, we have a similar responsibility to those who would follow us here on earth.  And we have to work even harder, for created by a perfect God, we are imperfect creatures with free will.  A problematic combination.  We have to strive to do better than most as we are in a position where people will be watching our actions more carefully than other people. We must strive for a correct attitude, heading, stability and predictability in our path so we can be followed towards that final destination marking a successful mission. We must always be checking our navigational instruments of the Holy Scriptures and our navigator, the Holy Ghost, to ensure we are on the right heading. We have to be willing to act for Him to show that we truly do have faith and not just say that we have faith. It is a lot easier to say than do, that is for sure.  


When Saint Luke relates the story of the Widow of Nain, it is more than just a simple miracle.  


In those days, a widow with only one son had little, a widow with no son was in deep trouble.  Jesus took compassion on her and also took the opportunity to make His power evident.  He came to the bier, and touched it saying, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.”  The young man arose and began to speak; whereupon Jesus brought him to his mother.  Not surprisingly, news of this event was spread “forth throughout all Judæa, and throughout all the region round about.”  Like the young man, we are dead to eternity until we hear the command “… Arise.”  If we hear and act on that command, we have eternal life, just like the young man, it starts right then! Eternal life doesn't start when you take your last breath, it starts when you take your first breath! Think through your life like it will be eternity and plan your actions accordingly.


Also, please take note Jesus ACTED.  He did not just tell the widow He was sorry, so very sorry; He actually did what He could to help her.  He can do more than we can, but we can do more than we do and we can certainly do more than just talk.  Words are very nice, but do not mean a whole lot unless they are backed by actions.


If we truly have faith, then we must follow Jesuss example and live our life like He lived His, with action! We must have good actions that will follow with that faith. If we only speak with our lips and do not have good actions, then we do not have any faith. However, if we do truly have faith, then we will speak the right things and do the right things.


Action, not diction, is what counts in the end.


Heaven is at the end of a hard and narrow 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] Certified Flight Instructor

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Rev Jack's sermon is available on video RIGHT HERE!

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action

Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.


Consider the words of the Collect, “… Keep … thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and … keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation …”


When the Collect talks about the church, it is not talking about buildings; it is talking about us. The church is not a building, it is the army of believers following God. That is the church.  Each of us; all of us.  We need God’s Mercy and Grace to keep us from desiring those things that are bad for us and help us to see we really want those things that are good for us.


Speaking of things, just like the Jewish based Christians of Paul’s time, it often seems like everyone has secret rituals, handshakes or hoops they want you to jump through to be really IN.  Paul reminds us that all fall short, and special fancy diets, days or outfits do not change us.  We are all the same sinful human beings regardless of what special fancy days, diets our outfits we partake in. That does not change who we are. God does not require any sort of fancy diet, days or outfits to be IN with Him. In fact, they are rather counter productive to being IN with Him. They are just a distraction from following Him. All He asks is that we believe on Him and His Son Jesus and do our best to follow Him.  None of these fancy rituals churches have are keys to salvation. They are not needed. For the action that led to our salvation was Jesus’s death and resurrection and has already happened one time for all time for all mankind. 


Our salvation comes one way, through our Lord Jesus and by the Grace of God.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father but by Him. He is our salvation. He is the living embodiment of the Word of God. His faith has saved us and made us whole, not our faith. But we need to act for Him to show that we have faith in Him The whole Gospel is based upon this. This is the solid foundation, as Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. We do not identify ourselves by men whose theology we like but by the only man who was perfect, Jesus Christ.  And if we follow Him, we have the gift of life as St. Paul explains For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord(Romans 6:23 KJV)


The problem with folks who identify themselves as something other than Christian, is they lose sight of the simple principles of Scripture and become more like the Pharisees in finding loopholes to get around and they find themselves going down the wide smooth down hill path instead of the narrow sloping uphill path towards heaven. It is so easy to get lost in the ideas of the various theologians, that you forget that they were doing their best to be known as followers of Christ.  Paul reminds us that we are to be followers of Christ and not followers of man. These people that identifiy as followers of various theologians often times forget they are supposed to be following Christ and not man. They have gotten themselves so wrapped up in the little things that they miss the sight of the big picture.



Paul points out that there are many who desire to make a show of following the law, not to follow the law but to somehow appear more righteous than you and that they do not truly want to suffer persecution for Christ.. He calls us as followers of Christ not to do that, but to follow Christ and His Gospel, the new way of thinking compared to the old ways of the Jews of old and the Mosaic Laws and also not to be afraid to suffer persecution in Jesus’s name.


As Paul said in a later epistle, there is not much glory if we are doing something wrong and get shamed for it. However, if we are following His Word and get shamed and slandered for it, there is a lot of glory there. God will make it so in the end, if we but stay true to the course, all of the persecution and bullying we face on Earth for following Him will be worth it. We will just have to remember this anytime we are encountering an unbeliever and being persecuted or slandered.


The last part of this reading is the one we often have the most trouble with.   We are far too ready to borrow trouble from tomorrow.  Every day, I pray at least twice for help with this.  It is getting better; I am confident on one thoughtful level no good comes of worry, yet I have such a hard time acting on that thought. It is a very difficult thing not to worry, but it is something that needs to be done nonetheless. I find as I trust God more and act upon His will more, I worry less. There is a correlation there I believe. It is a very hard thing to do, but it must be done, to ensure our success in spreading the Gospel and being an effective minister of God. Plus, worrying less will provide other benefits as well, and help us to lead happier lives. When we do what God asks, doing our best and not just saying it, there is not a lot to worry about. Even if there is, we can relax, knowing God has everything under control and He will always give us guidance on how to proceed.


God wants you to be happy; He knows what will make you happy.  God does not mind if you have fun along the way, but never pursue fun confusing it with happiness.  In the end, you won’t find either.


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] Mammon - a Chaldee or Syriac word meaning "wealth" or "riches" (Luke 16:9-11); also, by personification, the god of riches (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:9-11).

1: wealth regarded as an evil influence

2: (New Testament) a personification of wealth and avarice as an evil spirit.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity


Rev Jack's sermon is available on video RIGHT HERE!


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action

Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Today we consider The Law and how it failed to solve the problems of the people it was designed to help and think about how getting around technicalities is different than doing what is right.


Consider the words of the Collect, “…give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command …”


The Collects often are repetitive, in that we pretty much ask the same thing week after week.  Why is that?  We have the same failings and frailty week after week. We are asking Him to make us want to follow Him that we might gain the prize which He has promised us.  That prize is eternal life which begins when we accept it, not when we die. We need to realize this fact and adjust our lives accordingly. We have to shift our focus from the short term to the ultra long term (i.e, eternal) view of our actions. This will help us to become better spiritual stewards of the gifts which God has bestowed upon us.


We are praying for that increase of faith, hope and love, so we can maintain that course guidance.  Just like Paul says, if we do not have these qualities in us, it is impossible for us to stay on course. And we do not obtain these qualities from ourselves, but from the Holy Ghost. We need to listen to Him in order to stay on course. Not just listen to what He says then go off and do what we want to do. He is our infallible navigation aid. He will never fail us. The problem lies more in us failing Him. But with His Help and Guidance we will succeed. To succeed, there must be change on our part, modification of our behavior to follow Him. It requires actual action. This is the constant of Christian living that is unavoidable. 


Paul lists out the actions that are the works of those who are still under the influence of this world or the flesh, i.e fornication, heresies, strife, envying etc. If we are truly people of God, then we will not have those qualities and will do our best to quell them. Those are all qualities that make us worse human beings and draw us further away from God and not nearer to Him. Then he lists out the qualities of those who are of the spirit, long suffering, peacefulness, good faith, gentleness meekness etc. These are the qualities that if we let the Holy Ghost into our hearts we will heave.


It is only by having these qualities that we are able to follow God and do to His Will. Without the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we will be unable to have these qualities and have less happier lives. We have to make the effort to let the Holy Ghost in and shine his light in our hearts and drive out the bad qualities and let the good qualities in. The good qualities will not only help us to serve God, but make us a lot more pleasant human beings to be around.


These qualities will improve not just our spiritual but our physical lives immensely. The bad qualities can take a toll on our physical body not just our spiritual selves. The good qualities will do the opposite, will have a positive effect on our physical body and spiritual selves. It is in our best interest to do our best to follow God, and we will not only help Him by doing so, but helping our selves at the same time.


In order to perform action actions to serve Him, we need the Holy Ghost. However, the question is who will listen to the Holy Ghost? The only people who listen are those who are in need, hurt, pain and despair.  Often it is because they, or one of their loved ones, are ill or injured, perhaps near death.  Perhaps they are unemployed or undergoing some family upheaval.  Their situation is less than perfect.  They need help and they know it.  In their own mind, they are the Samaritans of this world. It is no accident Jesus’ parables and stories center on actions, not words, thoughts and meditations.  We need to retrain ourselves to ask for His Help before we are in need, pain or despair. The Holy Ghost can help us retrain ourselves, if we will but let Him in. Actions show who you truly are. Actions show the world who you follow, God or Mammon. You are not truly be a believer if you don’t act for Him. Without action, there is nothing. The key driving principle behind his parables are actions for Him, are those of goodness, not of evil.  Those who believe on me keep my commandments.  




Yet, those who turn to God in “need” are no different than each of us.  To quote Paul, “None are perfect, all fall short.”  We, each and every one of us, need God’s help.  Perhaps some need it more, none need it less.


When Luke tells us of Jesus and the ten lepers whom He heals and only one expresses thanks, do you think he is only telling of lepers? It is a metaphor for us. All too often, when God assists us, we do not turn back to Him in thanks, but merely go on our way and credit ourselves for being so smart. One of the lessons is that when God helps us in our lives, we should always take the time to give thanks to Him who helped us and created us.



Through our Lord, God is there for each of us if we will accept His help.  When He gives that help, how do we react?  Frankly most of us just think it our due.  We oft fail to give thanks for all that He gives us.


When we get an answer we don’t expect, do we thank Him?  What if we get an answer?  Do we thank Him?


Like the lepers only one in ten will show thanks for the mercy and help given them.  Rarely do people give thanks for large efforts done to help them. We must endeavor to be grateful for Him and for all of those who strive hard to help us out in our times of need.  In the case of the lepers, it was the Samaritan[1], showing that fancy dress and rules are not as important as doing what is right and being grateful for what we are given.


Are you part of that 10 percent?


Remember, it is Please and Thank You that are the magic words, not Please and I don’t have time for you


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] Samaritan - Of or pertaining to Samaria, in Palestine. -- n. A native or inhabitant of Samaria; also, the language of Samaria. [1913 Webster]


Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism.  They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation.  The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews.