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Thursday, December 8, 2016
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:5-8)
It is altogether fitting our Lord should compare His people and Church to the branches of the Vine for all of our sustenance and life is derived from the Vine from which we have sprung. There is no life for man apart from that life-giving source of life and energy in the Vine. Truly the branch severed from the Vine immediately begins to die. It has lost its sustaining power. Of what worth is a dried up branch of the grapevine when it has lost any ability to produce fruit. It is worthless and is burned for no other reason than to get it out of the sight and way of laborers.
The Vine gives life to the Body of the Branch. The garden variety grapevine gives physical life to the branches in producing fruit. The Heavenly Vine gives spiritual nourishment to the Church so that it will produce fruit. If the branch produces no fruit, it will be burned just as a fruitless garden vine.
Please read with me from Isaiah: 1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. (Isaiah 5:1-7)
The Vineyard (Church) has been the Apple of God’s Eye from the beginning. He has cherished the Church, adorned it with the finest apparel, cared for it, protected it, and cherished it. He purchased it by the Blood of the Cross. He has provided every resource for its prosperity in reaching the world with the Gospel of Christ. But has the Church not failed abysmally in its purpose and mission? Though a large part of the world has been evangelized today, there is little meaningful evangelization taking place today except to gather filthy lucre. The church today is resting on the laurels of past generations. Even those ‘established’ churches are wallowing in sin and compromise. They are so politically correct as to be totally spiritually unworthy. Pontius Pilate could easily apply for membership in the mainline churches of our day without objection.
Please note the care God has expended on the Church as described in the above text from Isaiah. First of all, He chose a Fruitful Hill to plant His Vineyard. Could that be Calvary where the Life-Giving Fountain was opened for us! He then erected a protective fence (doctrine) about the Vineyard to keep out varmints of unbelief. He carefully removed the stones (stumbling blocks) from the fertile soil. He used the best seed (Gospel) for the planting. He even built a Tower in the Vineyard – a common practice today in Asia. But after all of that divine planning and care, what has happened to the Vineyard? It has brought forth – not healthy and delicious grapes – but rather SOUR grapes. What has gone wrong in the Vineyard (Church)?
There is certainly nothing wrong with the Fruitful Hill the Lord chose to plant His Vineyard. It was the best on earth. The wall of defense He built was impregnable. But what happened to the Wall? It was not kept up. The great expense to which the Lord went in building the Wall was beyond man’s ability to construct; but the Lord did so with ease. Now He has delegated to His ministers the duty to maintain that wall – to stand in the hedge! But no man can be found to fulfill that duty today. 30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. 31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezek 22:30-31)
Have we in the modern Church incurred the wrath of God for not defending God’s Holy Word and Biblical Doctrine from the ravages of the world? Have we stood in the gap, and kept up the hedge?
I apologize to the reader if my writings always seem dark and foreboding, but I sincerely believe with all my heart that we as a church and as a nation have fallen far short of the minimum threshold of faith. I believe we have remained silent too long while evil has triumphed. By doing so, evil has begun to appear to us as the new norm in conduct and living. That is what compromise does to a people and church.
There was nothing at all wrong with the seeds which the Lord planted for they were tried seven times as silver in a furnace. They were seed of the Gospel of Christ. But we of the modern church have corrupted the seed with our phony new versions of the Bible. Not only have we committed fraud against God’s Word, but we have redefined it to mean something altogether different from what God has intended. Just a few verses down in the same chapter of Isaiah, God sternly condemns this practice: 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21) The modern church is guilty of both of these offenses. We now call the abominable sin of homosexuality ‘Gay’ and have given it the respectability of God-ordained marriage. What blasphemy! I have actually read the writings of so-called Higher Critics who claim to know more than Jesus knew because of their superior academic preparation. What undiluted hogwash!
The Tower in the midst of the Vineyard has not been manned by faithful watchmen. The enemy (the world) has danced beyond the gates and enticed the keepers to allow them admission. The watchmen did not sound the alarm, but rather joined in the decadent revelry. Aaron’s Golden Calf would be perfectly suited for the mess we have made of spiritual worship. Should we not man the Tower today and at last call the Church into repentance?
Now last of all, the Lord placed a Winepress in the Vineyard. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was the purchase price of the Vineyard. But there is no grapes in the Vineyard from which the wine is made for want of a healthy harvest of domestic grapes. The grapes are SOUR! So the church today is filled with sour-pusses. They do not diligently search the Scriptures for the marks of Christ. They do not carry their Sunday morning morality with them out the door of the Church, and neither do they carry Christ with them in their hearts. The Keeper of the Winepress awaits the harvest of whole grapes, but He waits on, for the churches are sound asleep.
God asks a very searching question: 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? There was no good thing withheld by the Lord to His people. He has provided EVERYTHING including the blood of His only Begotten Son!
How will the Lord respond to this revolting development? 5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. (Isaiah 5:5-7)
Part of this prophecy seems to be in the process of present-day fulfillment. The hedge of biblical doctrine has been removed leaving the church defenseless to dismaying error. The walls of faith have been eroded and in their place humanistic wistfulness and vainglory have been instituted. In the place of healthy branches of the Vine, we now see briars and thistles of the sinful. The days of God’s pruning and chastisement are over. He will give us free rein now to commit the sins of desire and omission. The land of the vineyard has taken on the appearance of a desert wilderness for lack of refreshing rains from Heaven.
We have reached the point, even in the once vaunted judiciary of the United States, in which disregard for the equal application of law has been rejected. It is not as if we did not have enough law - we have too much! This condition allows the despot to prosecute the people selectively depending on their political leanings. Oppression is now beginning to raise its head in the once Fare Haven of the World. Instead of righteousness, in which men rejoice, we find only the cry of injustice and suffering from those who have been deprived of Constitutional guarantees – the aborted (murdered) baby no less among these. Heed the Clarion Call:
Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Eph 5:14)
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
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. . . . there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 LOOK UNTO ME, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:21-22)
Here is a prophetic utterance pointing directly to our Lord Jesus Christ. The entire Bible is about Christ, but there are chapters and verses not couched in veiled references, but are direct allusions to our Lord as the Word.
This particular verse is so abundantly based in Holy Scripture – both Old and New Testament – as to be graven in the minds and hearts of those who know and love the Lord. We have one account in the Church of the Wilderness wherein the Children of Israel sinned and brought the wrath of God upon their unbowed heads. 4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. (Num 21:4-6)
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and the sponsor of sin is the Devil. He is the old serpent of the Garden, and the Great Red Dragon of Revelations 12. His bite, as Adam learned, is deadly. There is only one remedy and that is what God promised and, in the fullness of time, provided. Of course, once dead, there is no more remission of sin, so the remedy must be applied BEFORE we close our eyes in this life. The same was true of the children of Israel who were bitten by the fiery serpents. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. (Num 21:7) Forgiveness and absolution of sin is always available on appeal and repentance before the Lord; however, sin leaves scars. We may strike another out of inordinate anger breaking his nose. Later, we may repent and seek forgiveness of the offended party and of God. If we sincerely repent, we will be forgiven, yet the broken nose remains. This was true of those who murmured against the Lord. Fiery serpents were sent into their midst. Now they ask that the serpents be taken away; however, they were not – but God offers a remedy that mitigates the penalty of the serpents.
8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Num 21:8-9) Unbeknownst to the children of Israel, this brazen serpent (2 Kings 18:4) that Moses affixed to the pole was a foreshadow of the remedy for sin made available in Christ. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15) Though they suffered much pain when bitten by the serpent, the Children of Israel would not die if they simply looked upon the brazen serpent. They could do nothing more than simply LOOK! 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:31-32)
Jesus says All men shall be drawn to me. Yes, indeed, all are drawn to Christ – willing or unwilling, in judgment or in salvation. We pay a price in our bodies and lives by living in sin and suffering its misery; but we may live if we LOOK in faith to Christ crucified! The women, John, the redeemed thief on the cross, and the Centurion looked unto Christ in believing faith and were saved, but these are not the only ones who were drawn to Golgotha that day. The ridiculing and scoffing Scribes and Pharisees were there, too, but to their own condemnation.
God asks us only to LOOK and know Him. Behold what He has done for you and me on that rugged old Cross at Calvary. If we LOOK upon Christ and realize all that He has done on our behalf, we are drawn to Him by faith and belief. We cannot help it. But if our stony hearts have blinded our dimly lit eyes, we will not look upon Him in faith but is faithless damnation.
Let us examine this “Looking unto Christ.” To look upon the Lord takes the smallest of efforts. We are not called to remove mountains, or to even walk a few feet; but simply we are told to LOOK! To LOOK upon Christ requires no gnostic knowledge or any sophistication of education. The illiterate, the literate; the rich, the poor; the paralyzed, the whole; the mere child, and the aged adult can at least LOOK. How simple is that? But many prefer not to look. It is not that they do not believe that Christ is Lord, but rather that they do, indeed, know Him to be Lord. If they acknowledge His crucified body, they will know that their own sins placed Him there on the cross. Admitting to the sovereignty of Christ requires a great change of heart. This change they do not desire. The would prefer to hold on to that old self, or free, will instead of accepting His Will for their lives. They believe that they will be giving up too much to follow Christ. Little do they know that they are forsaking all in failing to follow Him. There are no true atheists – all know there to be a Creator God, but the mere mention of His name to some is the worst offense they can bear. So they do all in their power to expunge His name from every public forum. Just this morning, I heard a fellow interviewed on the morning news who claims to be an atheist. His ministry is to convince people not to go to church this Christmas. He claims we can celebrate all of the trimmings of Christmas without acknowledging its Namesake! How ridiculous can he be!
Look! But where? We no longer see the ancient old brow of Golgotha brooding in the silent dusk of our solitude. The cross has been taken down along with the Body of our Lord. We can no longer look upon the scarred Body of our Lord for He was buried. We can no longer see the physical countenance of our Lord walking just outside the Tomb in the Garden of the early morning dews. So where do we LOOK? We look to all of these as related in the Word of God. We look, not only on the crucified Lord there, but the Risen and Ascended Lord. He is every whit as real today as He has ever been – and He has ever been!
We may not vividly see the nail prints in His Hands, the stripes on His bare back, the bloodstreams cascading down His brow and cheeks from the crown of thorns, or the terrible gash in His side made by the Centurion’s spear. But we should remember them since it was all of us who put them there. After all His patient ministry, His humility in suffering, and His joy at the surrender of His Spirit unto His Father – He nevertheless looks upon us with compassion and kindly regard. How could He? He could do so because He is God, and He is LOVE, and He was Willing to do so for the sake of our eternal souls!
LOOK! But where? In the Word. Look diligently to learn of Him. 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30) “Learn of HIM!” How much do you wish to learn of Christ? Enough to at least spare minutes a day in prayer – morning, noon, and night; enough to spend quiet hours in the day in deep study of the Word which He died to make complete for you? May none reading this devotion ever hear these words from Christ: 37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 41 I receive not honour from men. 42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:37-44)
REMINDER: The command to search is not a passive suggestion. If we love the Lord, we will study deeply to know Him better.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
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13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; 14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. 16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. (Gen 7:13-16)
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. (Matt 25:10)
From the first light of Creation men and women of faith have observed the Advent Season. Though the Church has set a specific time for its observance, its practical and constant observance has been from that moment Adam sinned until today, and far into the future. His coming was promised through the promise God made to Eve, and by the slaying of an innocent animal to cover their nakedness until that first Christmas night in Bethlehem. But it also is in effect until our Lord’s coming again. The Gates of Splendor are locked to all who are not of faith, but the One who has the Key is coming soon.
Can you imagine the sore distress, horror and despondency of those who had heard and rejected the 100 years of preaching of Noah before the Deluge who, seeing the rising waters gushing from the fountains of the deep and the bottomless skies, found the door of the Ark closed and barred. They doubtless fled to the hills and mountains to share the last spots of dry ground with snakes, lions, and every creeping thing. But those of us who have placed our hope and faith in the Anchor of God’s Word need not worry about the door being shut to the Marriage Supper of the Lord.
The author of this Lutheran hymn is Laurentius Laurenti in 1700. My favorite tune for this hymn is Greenland – a composition of Johann Haydn around 1760. Other tune selections are Lancashire (Henry Smart 1835) and a Welsh tune entitled, Llangloffan, by D. Evans (1865)
Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers
Rejoice, rejoice, believers,
and let your lights appear;
the evening is advancing,
and darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising,
and soon he draweth nigh;
up, pray, and watch, and wrestle:
at midnight comes the cry.
See that your lamps are burning;
replenish them with oil;
and wait for your salvation,
the end of earthly toil.
The watchers on the mountain
proclaim the Bridegroom near;
go meet him as he cometh,
with alleluias clear.
O wise and holy virgins,
now raise your voices higher,
until in songs of triumph
ye meet the angel choir.
The marriage feast is waiting,
the gates wide open stand;
rise up, ye heirs of glory,
the Bridegroom is at hand.
Our hope and expectation,
O Jesus, now appear!
Arise, thou Sun so longed for,
over this benighted sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted,
we plead, O Lord
that brings us unto thee., to see
the day of earth's redemption
Rejoice, rejoice, believers, and let your lights appear; the evening is advancing, and darker night is near. The Bridegroom is arising, and soon he draweth nigh; up, pray, and watch, and wrestle: at midnight comes the cry. We are the burning, lower lights of God. We must be lights to those around us until the midnight moment, and then the lights are for our use and only those who have them, individually, alone. 35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; 36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. (Luke 12:35-36) It is altogether true that the darkest and coldest moment of the night is just before the resplendent rays of sunrise burst across the horizon. To many, the Midnight Cry will be a horrifying sound; but to those who know and believe, it will be the serene of happy welcome. The Bridegroom comes for His Bride the Church; but to judge and condemn those who have rejected the Light.
See that your lamps are burning; replenish them with oil; and wait for your salvation, the end of earthly toil. The watchers on the mountain proclaim the Bridegroom near; go meet him as he cometh, with alleluias clear. Our Lord preached a short but famous sermon at Capernaum from the Book of Isaiah (61:1-2): 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. (Isaiah 61:1-2) This sermon our Lord concluded with, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:21) We are watchers on the mountains of our modern day, but we may not send out the urgent call if we have no lights with which to lighten the dark hearts of men: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:6) If we are not lights to the unbelievers, we are all darkness within and without. But as our lights are continually burning, 6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God. (Isaiah 61:5-6)
O wise and holy virgins, now raise your voices higher, until in songs of triumph ye meet the angel choir. The marriage feast is waiting, the gates wide open stand; rise up, ye heirs of glory, the Bridegroom is at hand. It is possible to be morally upright, yet unholy. The five foolish virgins were of this latter sort. They dressed modestly and were pure in their living; yet, they were not Holy, and none can please God with good works – rather by grace through faith. To the holy people of God, the Gates are opened widely already to receive you; but to those who have lived the outward appearance of chastity and righteousness while the inside of their hearts are full of illicit desires will find the gates shut and barred.
Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear! Arise, thou Sun so longed for, over this benighted sphere! With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord that brings us unto thee., to see the day of earth's redemption. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, do we pray the words with believing faith, Thy Kingdom come; they Will be done? This must be the Christians earnest desire! The latter Creation will be made new. The old will have passed away with its corrupt politics, dishonest society, vanity and pomp. I will lift up my hands in thy name. (Psalm 63:4) The whole world is sick! Sin has disfigured and marred the beauty of God’s Creation. But this will not persist in the end. The Man with the Key and the Burning Sword is Coming: 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. (Mal 4:2)
Even so, come Lord Jesus. (Revelations 22:20b)
Monday, December 5, 2016
If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Happy Second Sunday in Advent!
The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Advent is much more than a countdown to opening “presents” on Christmas morning, read the report and think about what it means. Christ came into this world knowing how He would leave. For certain, not even a nine times out of ten, with you looking at the other guys, thinking, “I sure feel sorry for them.” He knew it was Him that was going to be crucified for our sins. He knew it and came anyway. Think about that.
There are really great sermons from Bishop Roy and Revs Jack and Bryan. I liked Jack’s the best perhaps because I heard it, but I will tell you both of the others are really outstanding. Some important stuff to think about. They are on similar Scripture, but you will not find them repetitive at all. Plus, each of the guys writing styles are so different, you cannot help but enjoy each of them.
There are a lot of people who need your prayers. First, we lost long time friend, AOC Sunday Report reader and prayer list resident, Arch Crittenden this past week. Please give thanks for his time here on earth and pray for consolation for his lovely wife Kathy who of necessity remains behind. Pray she will be able to let God carry her sorrow at the temporary separation. Pray for Shamu who needs physical strength and for Bob, Jim and Mary each of whom need God’s Help to drive the cancer from their bodies.
Remember Wednesday is Pearl Harbor Day, recall those who lost their lives in the defense of our country on that day 75 years ago which will live in infamy, very few remain with us who fought that day. On a personal note, Uncle Jack was there, he is gone now. Coincidentally, Pearl Harbor Day is the day of my near fatal mishap, this year marks 20 years God has let me stay here on earth, for which I am appreciative.
May God grant you an epic week ahead.
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Sunday, December 4, 2016
|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
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
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.
We are to use Scripture for our 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 guidance of the Holy Spirit is necessary to help 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. We 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 that message which 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. 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 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 that 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 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. 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 will 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