Verse of the Day

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

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

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action

Church of the Faithful Centurion, Descanso, California

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


 Consider these words from the Collect:


… who 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. The Collect acknowledges that our sinful nature makes it so we cannot always stand upright, but with God’s help, he can help right us and face those dangers, trials and temptations we will face for the rest of our natural lives here on Earth. We just have to let Him into our hearts, and guide us. And by guiding us, we have to act upon what He tells us. He will not force us to act, we have to act upon His Word with our free will.


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. Paul says that the rulers that abuse their power will receive condemnation.  They are not called to bow and serve the wicked doers of this world but of God and they will in the end face consequences for not doing so.


Of course, to paraphrase Solomon, this is nothing new. Man has always sought to supplant God as the ultimate authority on earth. We see that with the Tower of Babel among other cautionary tales. It is a tale that is as old as time. Man is naturally incline to turn away from God and not towards Him and this is the reason why power corrupts so many. 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

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Third Sunday after The Epiphany


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


The Third Sunday after The Epiphany.

The Collect.



LMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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:


… mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us …


In the Collect, we are asking God to set aside our failures and protect and aid us in all we do with His strong hand.  God is perfect, thus so is His counsel.  When we acknowledge our imperfection and ask Him for help, we should look to the written record of His Son, our Savior; the ultimate example of perfection and we should be doing do our best to follow Him, by being honest, hard working, peaceful and helpful.  When we do this, we will prosper; not only in this world, but in our hearts. And not only our hearts, but doing these things will make things better for those around us, too.  When we pray for His Help, we need to listen for the answer, then act on it, not ignore it because it is not the answer we wanted. This is a very common theme throughout the collects and by extension, the Bible. As we have always the same problems, we have the same need, which is to turn to God for help! 


In the Epistle, Paul counsels us to not repay our fellow men’s evil with evil but to do right as much as possible in a given circumstances. He also says that God will reap vengeance on evildoers and it is not for us to deal vengeance out. He also says we need to be honest and forthright in all our dealings as is befitting our children of God status. He points out if we give kindness and honesty even to those who we do not like or get along with, that will be truly more satisfying for us then any kind of imperfect revenge or sabotage we can come up with. It will in the end be on their own heads for refusing our hospitality and kindly actions.


Which brings us to the next point, why are we always emphasizing action?  There is a simple reason for this.  In the space of time where we exist, where we are, is Today. Where God’s finger touches the line of time. Not tomorrow nor the past, but today. We can’t go back in the past or go forward to the future and act there, our actions have to be done in the present.  Actions are how we live out our faith. That is why worrying does nothing productive. We should focus on what we can do in the present, rather in the past we cannot change nor the future which is unknown. Acting in the present is far more productive than worrying about places we cannot act in like the past or unknown like the future. 


Our God is a God of Action.  No less is His Son one of action.  All throughout the Bible, you find Jesus doing things, not just talking about them. His messages all convey action. Jesus did not just talk nice words, he backed them up with action. This is why we emphasize action. To truly follow Christ requires us to be like Him within the best our abilities and with the Help of the Holy Ghost, perform actions.  To be like Christ, we must back our stated belief with actions that confirm that belief, following His Word. It is a tough task and we may never get there fully, but we’ll never get there if we don’t at least do our best and not just say it. 


The Gospel provides a great example of how our God is a God of Action.  In the Gospel we see Jesus performing His first documented earthly miracle, turning water into wine at Cana.  He was at first apparently reluctant to perform it, telling his earthly mother that it was not the right time for Him to perform miracles. Mary chose to ignore this and instead placed great faith in her son by instructing the servants, “Whatsoever he saith to you do it.”


She had great faith in Him in that He would perform a miraculous action. Mary truly had the faith Jesus talked about which could “move mountains.” When He referred to this, He was not talking about literally moving mountains, but obstacles which get in our way in life.  That is the faith we need to have in Him and God. We need to have faith that He will help us overcome those mountainous obstacles, we just have to let him into our hearts.


His actions created a wine so good, it caused the governor to remark they usually set out the best wine first, then when the partygoers get more drunk they bring out the worst wine. But the wine Jesus created was so good, he said in effect, “You have saved the best for last.”


The whole point behind the Gospel is that Jesus, and God, is a person of action not just diction. Jesus could have chosen not to do anything or tell the servants anything. But He chose to honor His mother’s request and perform a miracle that set off His earthly ministry. When faced with the opportunity to act, He always acted. This was the first of those times when He was faced with a decision point. You will note in all of his miracles He chose to act.


This shows that if we are to become like Christ, we are also to be men and women of action and not just diction.  There are too many in this world who to paraphrase President Trumps’ inaugural address “They talk the good talk and sit around on their hands and do nothing.” It is all too easy to say the right words at the right time; however, it is harder to perform the right actions at the right time.


Actions truly show our character more than words ever could.  How should we act to show the best of our character?  To the extent you are able, attempt to do good to all.  Always do the right thing when you are faced with a choice. Sometimes that choice is harder than others to be made, but it must be made all the same. It is possible if we have the Holy Ghost in our hearts to do the right thing. We are not Christ, but if we do our best emulate His earthly actions, we do well.  If you treat your enemies with respect and kindness, you oft make them your friends. Like many other things Jesus taught, it is easy to say and hard to do. 


Like Jesus at the well, we must remember that our purpose is to help bring people to salvation. We are not called to any action that would push people always from salvation, but rather to lead them by example towards that salvation.  We are called to be like Christ as much as possible. So, with that in mind, we must strive to influence the people around us for good.  A good reason to think before you open your mouth. Think is what I am about to say going to lead this person to or from Christ. If it will lead them away, think of how you can phrase it so it will lead them to Christ. Any step you take today may have future consequence.  Your witness, your testimony, your actions can bring people to the point they accept the Holy Spirit or not.  Your interface may only be one small step; but do your best to make it a step towards God, not away. Therefore, let us think about our actions and the possible consequences they could have for people turning to or away from Him.


Error is error, wrong is not right.  But, a person’s final destination is up to God, not us.  Fortunate for each of us, it should be considered.  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. That is why we need the Holy Ghost’s help to read those signs and keep on moving in the consistent direction towards heaven.


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


The common theme through the Collect, Epistle and Gospel is that if we have hope and trust in God, we must dread naught, and carry on, empowered through our daily lives here on Earth until we are called to our heavenly home.   These are actions we must take not mere thoughts or words, actual actions!


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?”


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, January 16, 2022

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

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 ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and readings for this week. Consider these words from the Collect:

… God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life …


In the Collect, first we acknowledge God’s place in the universe, that is He is the ultimate ruler of all things.  Thus, the civil authorities of each country, state, county and locality govern with His Authority, so long as they do His Will, whether they be Christian or not.  It is His Authority that is the source their powers and not their own determination. They do not have the power to grant themselves the power that God grants them.  The power God gives is not to be abused for self-profit or their own means, but to better the country and the people within it. Our Constitution, which serves as the skeleton or foundation of all our laws gets its authority from the Declaration of Independence.  Where, pray tell, does the Declaration of Independence get its authority?  From our Creator.  Acknowledged right there in plain English.  It needs no explanation, merely a grade school reading ability!  


It tells us that men do not have the power themselves to rule and govern us, but only what God has given to them. It is not theirs to claim for themselves, no matter how hard the modern establishment tries to proclaim it so. It is only theirs for as long as God allows them to have it. God has given it to them for the specific use of governing us to the best of their abilities. It is not there for them to abuse and become tyrannical with. With that great power God has lent comes great responsibility to use that power well.


We go on to ask God to listen to us and give us His peace in our hearts.  God is perfect.  His hearing is perfect.  It is not His hearing that is in need of help; it is ours. He hears us clearly when we pray; God always hears us when we call Him.  What we learn from this Collect is that when we pray to Him, we need to listen to Him.  We need to establish two-way communication. In order to act upon His Word, we need to first listen to what He tells us and understand what He is telling us. We are the ones that need help with hearing, not Him. He always listens to what we have to say, but do we always listen to what He tells us? Therefore we need the help to calm our hearts and listen to what He says and then act upon it. 


To truly follow Him, we need to truly listen and take His Guidance to heart. In order to truly listen to His Guidance we need to act upon His Words. key word being ACT. We need His Guidance to transform ourselves from evil to good.  Without His Guidance, we cannot hope to be transformed to be good to serve Him. His Guidance comes in the form of the Holy Ghost. Without His Guidance, we cannot ever hope to be good and righteous. To do that, we must open our hearts and minds; and let Him in. He will not force His way in.  It takes action on our part to let Him in.  If we open our hearts and minds, we will hear Him. Then after we hear Him, there is still more action to be done. After we hear Him, we then have to act on what He tells us to do. Action, not just diction, is what counts in the end.


In the Epistle Paul reminds us that each of us have of individual talents important help the Church further its cause. And it is equally important that we all work together. To work together in the church, each of us need to utilize our unique talents according to the needs of the church, not somebody else’s talents, but their talents. Each and every one of us has a talent of some sort, be it musical, talking (being good with communication), sweeping, taking out the trash, there is no end to the need. Almost anything else can be used for His Glory, to further His Work, His Goals, is a talent. What we need to do is co-ordinate with others of differing talents to come together and further His Will.


We should not look for praise for our own work (though we may appreciate it, we should not dwell on it too long, lest we have to start shopping for size fourteen hats for our swollen heads!) However, we should look for reasons to praise and encourage others. Encouragement is the best way to help the team grow the Church. Encouragement helps other Christians to grow in their talents.  The more we encourage our fellow Christians, the better off the team as a whole will be. That which is rewarded most is what grows. And this is how we can encourage our fellow Christians and our other friends to grow and learn, by the encouragement. This encouragement will help sprout the seed for more of the good work around us to flourish.


Look at John the Baptist, out in the wilderness; not in the fancy building, the gold-plated temple, but out where he could prepare straight the way for the Lord. He was out where the people were, he came to them, rather than wait for them to come to him in a fancy building. He was on a mission to pave the way for Jesus to come and preach and ultimately for His Death and Resurrection. Smoothing the path so to speak, making ready the hearts and souls of the people for the coming of the Lord.  He did not point at himself, rather he pointed the way towards God incarnate[1]!


By the way, how necessary is praise to miserable human beings?  God Himself, looking on His Son’s baptism remarked for all to hear, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


How oft do we praise the actions of others?  Too often we are quick to criticize the failings of others and over analyze their failings. Sometimes when we think of people we know, all we can think of is their failings and forget everyone has their good parts as well, for each of us has been created by God. It is in our nature, part of our human nature, our free will condition that we must fight against with His help. We must understand while it is valuable to know when we fall short, people strive the hardest for praise of those whose opinion they value.


When you hear those words, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, remember to use them yourself.  Lead others to God, don’t just point the way.


Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

[1] Incarnate, literally in the flesh.  Carne being a Latin derivative meaning flesh.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

First Sunday after the Epiphany

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

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:


…grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same…


As imperfect creatures with free will, we will never figure out what we should be doing, let alone do it, on our own.  We are confused beings who get into trouble left to our own devices. Without an external source of help, we will never be able to follow God on our own.  God sent the Holy Ghost that we might listen to Him and understand. He will give us the ability to figure out and know what and how we are to do the things we need to do here on Earth for Him. 


We need to not just understand The Word spoken to us through Jesus and the Scriptures, but to understand what we should do; hence the prayer to figure out what we need to do, then give us the power or strength to do what we are supposed to do.  The Holy Spirit will give us the guidance we need to perform actions for Him. We just have to open our hearts and be ready to listen and act upon His Guidance. 


To live the Word requires action and self-improvement each and every day of our lives. This is a constant struggle that will be continuous for the rest of our earthly lives.  We need to ask ourselves at the end of each day, what did I do to act for God and what I did right today and what did I not do right? And figure out with the help of the Holy Ghost how to correct our wrongs and go on to the next day and do our best to do better. There will be days that are harder than others but if we lean on God and the Holy Spirit he can help us get through the horrible days too. Also even in the great and wondaful days we should not neglect to thank Him for His Guidance and Wisdom that has helped us to improve our lives to have these great days.


Christianity is all about action and self-improvement. Part of the self-improvement is  have to recognizing the signs we are in trouble and immediately consult Him and His Word and figure out an action plan according to the principles in Scripture. This is a continuous process that will occur for the rest of our earthly lives.  I would say that self improvement and action are the chief mechanisms of the Christian Faith. Jesus set the ultimate example for us in action, by His Death and Resurrection. His Ministry revolved around action and helping others. We must do the best to do likewise and act. It is by our actions that our faith in Him is shown to others. I would say that faith without action is not a true faith at all but a false one. We must avoid this by doing actions for Him. The Holy Spirit will help us in this, we just have to listen and then act upon His Guidance.


We are asking God to help us know what we should do and then help us to do it right.  Seems pretty simple, but is the root of almost all our problems. It is harder to do what is right than what seems easy to us at the time.  First, even if we ask God what He wants us to do, “There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.”  Then, if we hear what He wants us to do, and hear it correctly, we often find it “too hard.”  Do you recall this quote from GK Chesterton:


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



So, once we find out what God wants, we often try to rationalize our way around it. Note the word try. There is no good way to rationalize our way around what God wants in the end. It is impossible to rationally get around the concepts found in the Summary of the Law. Think about the 613 Mosaic laws and the Pharisees who made a good living telling people how to comply with them to the letter and still do just what they wanted to do.  So, then, even if we find out what God wants and decide to actually do it instead of avoid it, we are faced with the often huge problem of where do we get the strength to accomplish this task?  The answer is circular, from God.  He never asks us to do anything we cannot do good enough for Him if we rely on Him.  Never.  End of that discussion. 


What we need to do next is we need to turn ourselves outward.  Not be self-centered, but we must think of God and our fellow Christians. In order to accomplish the Great Commission, we have to work with our other fellow Christians as a team. Notice there is no I in team. We have to let go of our egos and embrace the Holy Spirit as we work with our fellow Christians to follow His Teachings and spread His Word through ought the globe.


“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.”


Paul tells us not to concentrate on our status, position or grandeur, but to see what we can do to help.  Just like our body would not function if all parts were brains, neither will Christ’s Team function if everyone is concerned about their position.


When we look at the Gospel today, aside from the historical function telling us that Jesus was in the temple bringing the light of the gospel to the rabbis, there are other lessons.  We do not want to micromanage your life, but it is a good idea keep your friends and family informed of what you are doing and where you are going.   Jesus’ earthly parents risked life and limb going back up the road to Jerusalem at night.  But, that was their duty as parents.  A duty must be done, no matter the cost. The lesson here is to keep your family and friends well informed of what you are doing, rather than going off on your own, figuring you can handle it. 


Duty means to do what you are supposed to do, then count the cost.  There is no sense of duty if you are merely doing what is easiest for you at the time.  While doing your duty will in the end be the right thing, thus the easiest thing, it may not seem so at the time.  Doing one’s duty can result in one’s temporal death, the end of their time here on earth.  Not an easy way on the surface.  But, recall that what seems like that easy downhill path leads to The Pit, it does not lead to the summit.  Our country is where it is today because of those who preceded us, those who did their duty.  It will not keep going up if, as a country, we stroll down that wide smooth downhill boulevard.  We must struggle to stay on the narrow path, which leads to the summit.  


Look back at those who stepped forward when the country called, Concord, Veracruz, Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Chateau Thierry, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Peleliu, Bastogne, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Chosin Reservoir, Ia Drang Valley, Khe Sanh, Hanoi, Laos, Cambodia, Basra, Kabul, Bagdad and countless unfamiliar and unpronounceable names in Southwest Asia.  In them, you find a unifying theme of Duty, doing what you have to do, no matter what it takes, then count the cost.  Those who fought for our country did it out of duty to their country and God and to protect their family. We must emulate their purpose and serve God dutifully. Christ is the ultimate example of this, the only begotten Son of God, yet doing His duty to die for us, which is what God needed Him to do, to save us from eternal hellfire.  So, it was His Duty and He did it with honor.


Through duty, we too might have a noble death and welcoming in heaven.  We must do our duty to God, to Honor, to Country and Family.  Sometimes we will fall short, for we are imperfect creatures with that darn free will.  Thus, at times we choose the wrong path or our strength falls short or we just cannot do what is needed of us.  Then, we need to reset and restart towards the goal God has set for us.


But, back to the Gospel and the parents’ arrival at the temple, where lo, they found him.  He was among the learned men “both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.”  His parents were amazed and confounded.  He asked them why they worried and why they did not understand that he was about his Father’s business[1].  It is noteworthy to see Jesus at twelve was able to “hold his own” with the learned scholars of Judah.  He was able to out reason those who lived to dissect the Law.  “A little child shall lead them,” (Isaiah 11:1-10)


He comes!


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] Note also the tremendous advantage that God has over the Devil.  Not only did God make both man and the Devil, but He has actually been a man, the Devil only read about men and thought about men and contemplated men. In Jesus, God has been a man.  Note - in this instance, He learned about the compassion, worry and duty of parents towards their Son!  The Devil, not so much.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Second Sunday after Christmas

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

Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold

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.  Due to calendar considerations, we do not oft get to celebrate the Second Sunday after Christmas as there are only 12 days in Christmastide, but this is one of those years!


Consider these words from the Collect, “…God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives…”

First, note God has given us the New Light of Jesus Christ in the world and in our lives as the Word Incarnate, or the Word in the Flesh.  We did not earn it He gave it to us!  Gave, as in we did nothing to deserve it. It is a gift of God’s wonderful Grace!  Once we receive it however, in order to show that we do have it, we have to perform actions with it! If we just say we have it and don’t act accordingly than we are not truly followers of God. We are asking God to guide us in our actions that show we do have His Word within us.


It is easy to read the words of His Word and not act upon them. Sadly far too many people in this world do this. However it is much harder to put His Word into practice but that is what we must do in order to follow Him. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can act upon His Word and have His Light shine forth in our lives. When His Light shines in our lives it will be very evident. A stark contrast for sure from the Old Man. Our old sinful selves were dull and dark but our new selves will be bright and shining forth His Word for all the world to see. This will only be possible if we allow the Holy Spirit into our hearts and provide us guidance. Also we will have to listen to that guidance in order for His Word to shine!


The reading used for the Epistle is not an Epistle as such, but a portion of the Book of Isaiah, one of the Old Testament books filled with New Testament ideas and thoughts.  Isaiah is pointing out what God will do for us, if we will but allow Him in. He will break us from the prison known as sin and bring us to true freedom. 


In the reading, Isaiah says what we should all be saying, The Lord has selected us to pass on His Good Tidings to all, to tell the world the Good News of the Lord Jesus!  To comfort those in need, to bring happiness where there is heaviness, to talk of the Glory of God!  Good News indeed for those of us who live in a fallen world where there is very little Good news, especially these days! Jesus proclaims liberty to us, the former captives of the sin that would otherwise bring us to a final death. Instead of death, He proclaims light and light to all the hearts who accept Him. 


On the surface, in the Gospel, Matthew is just relating the historical fact of Joseph being told to go back into Israel with Mary and Jesus, that all was safe for the time being.  Yet, there is more.  The verses also recall the threat to Jesus’ life from Herod and sends Joseph and his family to take up residence in Nazareth in fulfillment of the prophecy that the King of Kings would be called a Nazarene.


So, what of us?  How do we fit in to all this?


We are to spread the light unto the world, to be beacons, directing the people of the World to follow Christ and not the World. We are lamp bearers, torch bearers, bringing the light of Scripture unto the darkest places. We are like the light of Galadriel given to Frodo in Lord of the Rings, that it might be a light “unto the darkest places.” Indeed, this world is dark, a lot like the world of Mordor, also from Lord of the Rings. Even when we despair and all seems hopeless, with Christ and the Holy Ghost in our hearts, we can ride out amidst the darkness of the world and triumph over what seems like overwhelming odds, when the evil folk outnumber the good folk. With this rallying to our King, we can defeat anything evil throws at us. We know in the end our side wins for all eternity. We have the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us in difficult times and the wonderful guide of Scripture to guide us.


So too shall Scripture be a light for us and others in the darkest times and places on this planet. Christ is the great guiding star, like the North Star for sailors of old to navigate by. So too shall we navigate by Christ as our great guiding star. If we hold the light up, we shall never fall and stumble.  Without light we will fall and stumble. So, the obvious solution to our problems when we are troubled is to turn back and hold up the light to light our way.


That is to say, to return to the Scriptures and His Word and consult Him for guidance and not look for true guidance from the heart of man. We know that the heart of man is fallible and will get us spiritually lost.  However the Holy Spirit is infallible and will not get us spiritually lost. Listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and all will be well.


In order to listen, we need to allow the Holy Ghost to enter in our hearts and open us to change our ways to God’s ways. We have to be ready, willing and able to receive Him and to spread His Word, to have a true solid, Christian faith. Only then can we go forth and spread the Good News as God has instructed us. We can’t go forth and spread the Good News, if we do not have it within us via the Holy Ghost. 


In order to be of help to others who would come to Christ, we must walk the walk besides talking the talk; we must not be as hypocrites, saying one thing but doing another. We do not want to be like the Pharisees of old, with their lavish prayers and gestures in the public. But we must be like the publican who would not so much as lift His eyes up onto the heavens. We must have a humble, hearty and contrite spirit, to spread the Word of the Lord to those who need to hear it most.


The time has come to show the light unto the world. The time has come to choose God or Satan. The choice is like those in the Lord of the Rings[1]. Do we choose the Light, like the Men of the West and Aragorn of Gondor, or do we choose the forces of Darkness, of Mordor and their allies? Who shall we choose? Our actions shall show our hearts. “For where your heart is, there shall your treasure be also.”


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] No so surprising a comparison as you might think if you knew little of literature. The great fantasy and children’s writers, John Ronald Reuel (JRR) Tolkien, Clive Stapleton (CS) Lewis and Gilbert Keith (GK) Chesterton were all friends and more importantly, devoted well educated Christians.   While they are famous for their apparently secular fantasy writings, there is a Christian theme woven through each of their works.