Verse of the Day

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Second Sunday in Advent

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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.

The Second Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

B
LESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

The Collect and the Epistle and the Gospel all tell us we are to learn from Scripture and to place our hope and trust in God, not man. They tell us God provided Scripture so that we might learn from the
history of old believers in the Old and New testament. As the saying goes, if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. It is the same with Scripture; for much of Scripture is history.

Scriptures have been given to us as a tool for learning so we might become wiser through the Holy Spirit, whose guidance as we read and study Scripture will allow us to come to a fuller understanding of the meaning it should have in our daily lives. The key concept is learning, learning by growing closer to the concepts found in Scriptures and finding out how to learn from the mistakes we have made. The Scriptures are here for our personal and spiritual development. We need the Scriptures to grow and learn as men and women of God. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is necessary for us implement the concepts found in Scripture in our day to day lives.

If we try to live our lives, or for that matter write our sermons, without the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we will be for naught. We have to understand what we are preaching; to live what we are preaching, in order for our faith to have any meaning.  Then we also have to live what we preach, other wise we become hypocrites. There are too many preachers out there who preach a nice message; but ultimately they do not live the message they preach.

If we do not have understanding or act upon our preaching, how can we ask others to follow God, when we ourselves are not?  We must strive to avoid hypocrisy, to live a geniune live following His commandments He has set for us and to be a beacon to guide others to Him. We are not an icon or image of Him, but merely pathfinders, and once we have found the path, we guide others to Him. We do not posess any special powers as ministers of the Lord, except as we have the Holy Ghost within us, directing us. And that special power is not of our own to claim, but He who sent Him. We are merely being allowed to have Him within us and we should not boast of any deeds done with His Inspiration, but must simply point back to the source who sent Him. We cannot claim any credit on our own for the power He has bestowed upon us to perform great good works for Him.  He works not only in ministers, but in each and every member of the church.  For, each of us is an emissary of Christ to the world.

He gives each of us in His Church special talents, so members of the Church may use these talents in conjunction with one another to bring people to Christ. As in a professional workplace, each member of the Church has a special talent, that used in conjunction with other people with each of their own talents, can be used together to bring people to Christ. If we all work together, with the help of the Holy Spirit, there is not much beyond our capability. We cannot do this mission alone, we need to depend on each other and work together to strenghen the Church and carry out the Great Comission. We become an unstoppable spiritual force, with the Holy Ghost within each and every one of us, working for the glory of the Father here on Earth. For the Church is a team, each and everyone in it, the clergy and the lay people all having the common goals of spreading the Gospel to those who are in need of it and tending to those who need help. This is all done with reading and applying the precepts of Scripture with the help of the Holy Ghost.

We must act upon the words of Scripture and the sermons we hear, so our faith will be manifest to all of those watching us.  We will make mistakes and sin, as we are imperfect beings; if we admit our wrongdoings to God, and come back to Him, all shall be forgiven and we shall have another fresh slate, on which to start anew.

In the Epistle, Paul tells us Scripture was written so we might have hope, even in times of darkness.  Times like these with unbelievers in high places doing their best to defile and ridicule our faith can try our souls.  We must treat others as Christ taught us, with respect and humility, no matter our personal feelings/opinion on them and how they conduct their lives. If we are kind to them, we may plant a seed in their lives for the better, causing perhaps a change for the better in them. We do not know what impact our actions may have in the future; we can only hope they may influence an individual for the better. It may not be until way later that we find out what a measurable impact we may have had on these peoples lives. It takes a while for seeds to germinate and grow into  large and wondrous trees, it is the same with the seeds we plant spiritually. We have no idea what our actions will inspire others to do. That is also why we need to be extremely careful in how our actions influence others. We want to be a positive influence, rather than a negative one.

This is where applying the love thy neighbor as thyself concept plays a big part. For if we follow Christ’s Summary of the Law, then our actions are more likely to cause a positive impact on others around us, rather than if we follow ourselves instead of the Holy Ghost, wherein we are more likely to cause a negative impact to others around us.

Turning to the Gospel, Saint Luke describes the signs of the Second Coming and how we are to prepare for it.  We are not to be caught unaware of the signs; if we read the signs, then we shall be prepared to meet our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  At the same time remember Christ’s words in Matthew 24:36 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  This means every day we have to be active in our faith, and not brain and faith dead like so many around us today. We have to be spritually aware of our spiritual surroundings, much as a good and safe driver/motorcyclist must be aware of the cars around him and possible hazards in the road at all times.

We have to use the tools given to us by God; Scripture, our faith and our friends in the faith to combat the evils of this world.  They are given to us for learning the faith and for defending the faith from the multiple assaults of the wicked one. We must do our best to make this world the best place we can.  If we study, digest and use Scripture in faith, we will have hope in these times of darkness; we will go forth and spread Good News, which will give us satisfaction and hope for people; therefore renewing our spirit and vigor and the knowledge that in the end we will triumph, will fill our hungry spirits. It will renew our sense of purpose and redirect our focus outward instead of inward.

Our hungry spirits can only be satisified by God’s Goodness and His Word and His Love, of which He has infinite capacity; nobody is stealing anybody else’s share, as God has more than plenty to go around for all of us!  In fact, the more of God’s Love you take, the more there is for others!  So we must concentrate then on sharing the Gospel and God’s love, so others might finally find true happiness, as we find ours, in serving the Lord for the rest of our days. We also have to concentrate on living a genuine Christian life and not a shallow Christian life; showing the way to Christ for others to see and follow.

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 them in 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!

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, December 3, 2017

First Sunday in Advent


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

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together because as is always the case there is a unifying message in the Scripture for this Sunday. 

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

Today’s Collect, like almost all of them, starts out asking God’s Grace, His Help, His intervention to allow us to turn our backs on evil and our own desires that we might make His Desire our desire. This theme is constant through ought most of the collects for the simple reason that it is truth.  And it is the truth that without God’s intervention in our lives through the help of the Holy Ghost we are doomed to fail. If you will understand how much we fall short in our “natural” desire, you will understand that to cast off the works of darkness and don the armour of light, we must turn to Christ, who came to visit us, born in a simple and humble inn in Bethlehem.  As His manner of birth, we must be humble as well, not boastful and proud like the rich[1], but meek and lowly, to embrace light and cast off the works of darkness.  We have to let go of our pride in order to be humble and be able to cast off the works of darkness. Though He came in a rather humble manner, He shall return in a glorious and majestic manner, a rather stark contrast to His original incarnation, leaving no doubt who has come to lead us. 

The simple truth of the matter is that we must embrace lightness and reject the darkness. We do this by allowing the Holy Ghost into our hearts, to shine the light in our hearts and expel the darkness. It is a truly bright light that will cleanse our hearts of the inner darkness and will send the darkness scattering like insects. Only then can we truly don the armor of light. We need to train our brains and minds and souls in this way, so that we can act for Christ. This is a constant process that will occur for the rest of our lies until we are called home to join our friends and family who have gone before and Christ and His Father. We have been called to do these things, as sons and daughters of God, but only with a conscious effort on our part to accept Him and more importantly to listen to Him, can we do these things. To do these things we have to live it. Not just say we are living it, but physically perform the actions needed to live it. 

This point brings us straight to the Epistle. Paul tells us that we need to live the life we aspire to.  He cautions us to not borrow for what we do not need that we might owe others nothing but our love.  This is sound financial advice sorely needed in this country these days.  If we do, we are ensuring that we will not have a worldly obligation to any who might hold that over us to influence our path away from that Christ set out for us. We ideally owe no man anything but that of our love.  Paul asks us to love our neighbors, by love he means to take care for them as we would for ourselves or our own close relations.  Not necessarily to “give” them money, but to help them to attain self-sufficiency that they might prosper both in soul and body.  

This takes us right into the Gospel according to Saint Matthew.  We must not be for God in speech only, but in deed.  When Jesus came into this world, He came knowing the true purpose of His coming, He came knowing how He would leave, He came knowing the cost at which our souls would be accounted at perfect. His whole ministry, including his death and resurrection can be best summed up in one word; action. He consistently backed up His Message with actions and not just words. This is a pattern for us to follow as believers, we are called not just to say good words, but back those good words up with actions.  The story of Palm Sunday is the same as that of the Nativity.   For on Palm Sunday, there was joy in the crowd at the arrival of the Savior, much as there was in the stable at the arrival of the Child Jesus.  Yet, many in the very same crowd who cried “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday were there early on Good Friday.  For what did they cry then?

“Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

Pilate asked for them to cry for mercy, they cried for vengeance on their Lord and Savior!

A swift 180° turn from “Hosanna to the Son of David.”  How quick are men to turn upon that of a good thing. As Charles Spurgeon said "It is an astounding thing and a proof of human depravity that men do not themselves seek salvation. They even deny the necessity of it and would sooner run away than be partakers of it."  This is due to our natural inclination to choose the fruit of death rather than the bread of life, which comes from the Baker of Life, Jesus Christ. 

The Bread of Life is Christ’s sacrifice for us, and every time we partake of it in Holy Communion and listening to the Gospel and the Epistle, we must always remember the cost of our freedom from death. This Bread did not come to us without a cost namely His Death and resurrection.  It also comes with conditions, namely that we profess Christ as Our Saviour and to put Him first in our lives, love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We have heard this before in the Summary of the Law. This is what the Law of God condenses down to, and this is what all laws we set forth must be based upon, for there is no other rational or foundational base so great and solid as Christ. He must be the Chief Cornerstone in our lives, if our lives are to have any meaning. There are those who He is not chief in, and they are those who may vainly profess His name with their lips, but not in their actions. This is a great sorrow for them. They have not kept the Word of God in their hearts, though they may shallowly profess it with their lips. It is action and not diction that counts!

We must not be like them.  We must put on the great Armour of Light and so reject our former lives of sin and vanity. We must switch from our old selfish lives to a new unselfish, Christ filled life.  It is something we always struggle with, but God never gives up on us. We can be comforted by the assurance He will never give up on us. We just have to never give up on Him and do our very best to follow what He says. As long as we repent from our sin and turn back to God in our private prayers and devotion, he will wipe our slate clean. I know I have a hard time keeping on the straight and narrow path, so I am glad He left the Scriptures to guide us.

Through following His Word and Instructions, we shall be given a greater reward than anything existent on the Earth; past, present or future, that gift of immortal life, life for all eternity, that will outlast this physical world. To don the armour of light is not merely putting it on, you must utilize it, the helmet, the buckler and sword (Scriptures and Christ’s teachings).  You need the whole complement of weaponry to go into combat with the Prince of Darkness in this fallen world. And you not only need the complement of weaponry, but we need to train with these weapons. The best way is to be reading Scriptures regularly and discussing the meaning of it with your fellow believers. This way you can ingrain the Scriptures in your heart and be ready to do battle with those who follow the Prince of this World.

Make no mistake, we are engaged in a World War with the Prince of Air, the Prince of This World for the souls of men, starting with our own, a World War which has been going on since the beginning of time. But we know the ending is in our favor for certain, for the Book of Revelation tells us so.

As individuals we may not experience victory here on earth. We may struggle with problems in this world and our own, our whole lifespan on this planet. We may not see and savor that victory here on earth; but we know in the end He will be victorious as we know the Savior.  We will win, for we are on His Side.

Cast off the dull worn robes of darkness, which lack luster, give no warmth, protect not from the heat, and put on the shining glorious armour of light.  So kitted up, we walk in light, not in darkness where we may stumble and fall.   Unlike moths, for us light is life, not the destruction of darkness.

Come, put on the Armor of Light and go forth to destroy that last enemy, death!

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] It is not that worldly wealth is, in and of itself, bad, but rather the attitude it can bring, one of self-worth beyond that which is correct.  Wealth often brings to us a “better than thou” attitude, which soon turns to “Holier than thou.”  The kind of thing that was referred to when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  Mark 10.25

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday next before Advent

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together because as is always the case there is a unifying message in the Scripture for this Sunday.

The Sunday next before Advent
The Collect.
S
TIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As is oft the case, today’s propers are all tied together.  As is usual, they call for action not just   In fact, the collect is among the most direct, asking God to stir our hearts that we might ACT in a manner which will result in good things!  Jeremiah prophesies the coming of Jesus out of the branch of David that He might unite God’s people as one under a New Covenant.  Christ is the key piece to the puzzle of the Old Testament Prophecies. He is the answer to all of the prophecies the Old Testament contains about our savior.  John tells us Jesus comes to fill both our spiritual and physical hunger. Our spiritual hunger in that by His Coming, we will have the Word as our spiritual bread and drink. And our physical hunger by the fact if we follow what He says and do our best, we should not have any problems with getting food to eat. The collect says that we are asking God to stir up our will that we might be concentrating on performing good works for Him and noting that through those actions we will be plenteously rewarded.
thoughts.

This, of course ,requires us to let God into our hearts. Then once He is in our hearts, we are to let Him stir up His Will in our hearts, to incline us to perform good works for Him and to go out and actually perform those good works. Then through these actions we will truly get our just reward. Our wills are naturally inclined towards not following Him; we need to have our wills reset towards following Him.

We have to throw off our old man, to quote Saint Paul and to put on the new armor and helmet of the new man. We have to let the Holy Ghost into us and cleanse us of our old sinful selves.  For without the Holy Ghost’s influence, we cannot truly be able to willing follow Him and act for Him on our own intuition. For our natural intuition is corrupted, by the disease of sin eating away at our very souls. Only the great doctor, God himself, can cure us of this otherwise incurable disease.

Nothing else in this world can satisfy us like God and the Word of God can. He is the answer to the missing hole in so many people’s hearts and lives.  No art or work of mammon can come even close to the pure satisfaction following God provides us. This is the only possible way we can truly be satisfied, everything else is a shadow of true happiness and satisfaction. God is the only way in which we can truly be happy, for everything else is worthless to our well being, except for the joy of following Him.

If we follow our own heart and guidance, we will seek the things of this world.  As explained before, the things of this world cannot compare in satisfaction value to God and the Word of God.  If we set our hearts on acquiring things of this world, we will be seeking material superiority. Which will lead to things like stealing, coveting, all negative attributes that go against God’s laws.  These are all things that if you look at the Ten Commandments, violate them.

Look back on history and see how much evil action can be laid to not only coveting but some of these other evil desires by not only persons, but nations. We can look at the examples of the early wars in Europe, and of late, of the wars started by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan for examples.

These examples show we are not truly capable of satisfying ourselves, but that only Jesus and the Holy Spirit can fill the hole. This is why we truly need the Holy Ghost acting in our hearts and cleansing us of these impure thoughts. We desperately need the influence that the Trinity provides in our life. Our life will be so much more rewarding and happier, if we have them involved in our lives, versus those who do not have them in their life.

As we are nearing the beginning of Advent, let us think ahead to the joy of Christmas, the birth of Christ, His entry into this world, the joy of Epiphany, His revealing to the world.  Then look ahead at the horror, pain and sadness of Good Friday.  This lets us know the joy of eternal life that He gave for us, came at a very heavy price. Jesus gave His Own Life so we might have eternal happiness and not only that but he had to go down into hell and do battle with the devil. It has been said there is no free lunch.  That is true, it is better said that everything has a price.  There are some things are worth paying for, some are not.  Not one thing is worth coveting or stealing in the Ten Commandments sense.  Be sure and pay for everything, do not steal or partake in acquisition of stolen goods.

The inordinate desire for more money can lead to theft; the desire for more prestige, to evil ambition; the desire for more power, to tyranny; the desire for a person's body, to fornication and adultery. This inordinate desire for more money is a gateway drug of sorts, leading us into more sins. Paul identifies covetousness as idolatry because it puts things in the place of God.  When we put things over God’s Will, we no longer worship Him, but avoid Him.

When people serve idols, they place things above God.  When you covet, you are willing to set aside God for things.  In the end, that never works.  And, near the end it gets pretty unpleasant.  We find idols easier to deal with than God.  You can make an idol; God made you.  If you don’t like the idol’s rules, you change the rules. We can’t change God’s rules so we seek to change Him to an idol so we can change the rules.  God stands fast and is unchanging, unlike the World which is constantly changing things to suit its sinful desires.  There are some pretty big differences there.

We shall never be satisfied with the riches and the cares of this world.  If we let the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we will find happiness and satisfaction in His Word.  It will be more satisfying than the riches of this world could ever be.

He asks of us nothing special, but to do our very best and not just say it. It is something that I am striving to work on more and more every day. We must keep learning and following His Word. It is a hard concept for many of us to follow, including myself, but we must all strive more and more every day to do our very best. If we study Scriptures diligently and work hard to follow them to the best of our abilities, then we will, with the Holy Spirit’s help, be charted on an excellent course.

Interestingly, He tells the disciples to “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”  It seems He is talking about the sheep that He tends to, He wishes to “gather up the fragments that remain”, meaning the people apart from His flock, that “nothing be lost”, meaning that their souls may not be lost for eternity. Think about that and take what it is offered before it is no longer on the menu! And be thankful for All His Blessings in our lives, for our friends and our family that He has placed in our lives.  

We are blessed and should be grateful we are in a spiritually rich group (The Anglican Orthodox Church) and in communion with some very good men and women across the Earth in the AOC Worldwide Church, who hold true to the principles of Scripture. God has blessed us all by bringing us together. I am thankful for each and every person in the AOC Church and my family and friends.  At Thanksgiving, we should be thankful most of all for God sending His Son to die for us, that we might have eternal life and happiness instead of the eternal misery that comes from the separation from God.

Actions speak louder than words, but when we actually use that inspiration of the Holy Ghost and couple well thought out words with actions, we can do many marvelous things in the lives of people around us, through His Spirit and Word and we will help to fill people’s spiritual hunger, through acting through His Word, in thought, word and deed.

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