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The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sermon Notes - Third Sunday after The Epiphany - 22 January 2017, Anno Domini (in the Year of Our Lord)

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is 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.

Why do we judge wrongly the hearts of others?

We could judge more sensibly if we could see the end of a thing, but we cannot, and God can. God does, indeed, save the best wine for last (a subject of my sermon today). Look at poor Job! Look at the beginning of Job in Job 1:

1. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. 2. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. 3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camelsand five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east

Please note the numbers of assets Job had at the beginning. After God allowed Satan to deprive Job of all things near and dear (as a testimony in obedience to us), see what God had in store for Job at the end after his constancy and obedience to God's Word?

Job 42: 
12. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. 13. He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. 15. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. 16. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. 17. So Job died, being old and full of days. 

In all holdings, Job, who lost all that he had and was judged unrighteous by his friends, gained all things in double numbers except his sons and daughters. Of course, his friends looked at the loss and judged Job by the 'appearance' and not the essence of his heart.

And why did God grant double the sheep, camels, oxen, and she asses that Job had owned before the tribulation and not double the sons and daughters? It is a error in our reading to assume that. That is not the way the Lord works! Job did, indeed, gain double the number of sons and daughters as at first. How? Those sons and daughters which belonged to Job prior to his trials and temptation by Satan were on safer ground than before their deaths. They were with God, and still belonged to Job in God's safe-keeping. So, in reality, he ended with double the number of all things.

The mysteries of God are beyond our finding out unless we allow God to grow our minds in His Great Mind.

Why do I introduce today’s sermon, taken from John 2:1-11?

Because the same principle, spread throughout the biblical text, comes shining through in the story of Job that God saves, always, His best wine for last.

Examine with me the story of poor Moses:
After forty years of leading a nagging, defiant, and rebellious people across the Wilderness, he arrives at the Jordon Waters. There is only this small sliver of water separating Moses from his tired wonderings in the Wilderness and the Promised Land.   But God refuses to allow the leader to cross with his people. Moses had disobeyed God in his anger at the people, and God refused him the privilege to cross over.

Look at the final earthly days of Moses as described in Numbers 34:1-6
1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, 2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, 3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. 4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.  5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

Sad, isn’t it? By our view of circumstances, tragic, even. But wait! See Moses the next time he appears in Scripture:

Matthew 17:1
1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 

And look at Joseph, beloved of his father: Beaten by his own brothers, cast into a well, and then sold into slavery.

Joseph later became the second ruler of Egypt and was the soutce of salvation to his brothers. Listen to how Joseph describes this experience after finding his brothers in Egypt appealing for food:

When his brothers recognized Joseph as the little brother they had beaten and betrayed, 

Gen 50:19-21
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. 

John 2:1-11
 1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9  When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. 

Marriage! This passage is related in every marriage ceremony I have ever witnessed or conducted!
            This phrase: This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, is the most beautiful of all the Bible to me.

When we look at John 1:1, see how it correlates to the beginning verse in Genesis: “In the beginning….” John 1 and Genesis 1 refer to beginnings.

Now look at John 2 and Genesis 2: both refer to the institution of the first marriage, and every lawful marriage to follow:

Genesis 221 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 

This is the first relationship God ordained for man – marriage – even before the church!

Now we come to John 2 and what do we find? Once again, God is honoring and sanctifying, before Christ’s Church has been inaugurated, the institution of marriage.

Now, Cana of Galilee was a neighboring community of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. These people were doubtless close friends. The wedding couple were perhaps near the same age of Christ (thirty) and may have been personal friends to Christ. 

His mother, Mary, was also there along with the disciples. This occasion immediately follows the beginning of the earthly ministry of Christ. Remember in John 1 Jesus is baptized of John the Baptist and undertakes his ministry at that time.

So, the marriage at Cana is the first miracle and blessing that Jesus’ wrought in His ministry.

This demonstrates the importance of marriage in the eyes of God. If marriages fail, so does God’s Church because marriage is the building block for the church.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

How could our gracious Lord but rejoice at the commencement of that stupendous work of Divine mercy which, determined upon before the world began, by the kindness of God the blessed Trinity, He had now come to effect? Yet whilst the Lord Jesus cheered His heart at the commencement of His ministry by adorning the marriage feast with His presence, and so contemplating His own union with His spouse, the Church, there is melancholy in these words, "Mine hour is not yet come," which speaks to the heart of every one who truly weighs their meaning.

The time will come for Christ when the wine of life is no longer His. He must lay down His life for us. He understood this, while Mary, His mother, did not know these things.  5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

This is also Godly counsel for us today: Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it

It was a great humiliation to exhaust the wine supply at a wedding in the time of Christ. Ephesians 5:18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 

The Holy Spirit is the Wine of God. It makes us behave in ways the world does not understand.

Verse 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

Here is an example to us of obedience. They are out of wine. Jesus has been called upon to remedy the matter. He tells the servants to fill the waterpots with water.

Does this make sense? But notice, no one questions Christ. They obey this seemingly ridiculous counsel without so much as a question. We should also unquestioningly be obedient to Christ in all circumstances, good and bad, of our lives.

And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.

It was customary that the Master of ceremonies first taste all new wine before serving.

This wine is different. It is the new wine of Heaven which cannot be placed in old bottles.

9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

As we have witnessed in the life of Joseph, of Moses, of Job…God most often saves the best wine of life until last.

Does everyone remember the Ninth symphony of Beethoven? The Ode to Joy at the last? It was the very last musical note Beethoven ever wrote, and God gave him inspiration for it during the last days of his life. He may be withholding your best wine for last as well.

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

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 and is partly contained in the forewords above.

 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 failure 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.  We should do our best to follow His example, to be honest, hard working, peaceful and helpful.  When we do this, we will prosper, not only in this world, but in our hearts.  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! Therefore, the theme will be similar, asking God to open our hearts, souls and minds to Him, that in Him, we might get the help for our sinful bodies and souls.

Why the continuous emphasis on action?  Simple.  The line of time stretches from the far distant and unknown past to the far distant and unknowable future.  Yet, God is there, He has always been there and He will always be there.  Where His finger touches that line of time is today.  That is where we live; it is the only place where action can happen in our time space continuum.  Today. Not tomorrow nor the past, but today. That is why worrying does nothing productive, we cannot act in the future nor in the past right now, but only in the one dimension, that of the present. Therefore, let us not worry about the past or the future but think about what we can do and act within the present time. Let us keep ourselves busy doing God’s work, so that we have no time at all to worry or fret, but act. The time we spend worrying or fretting is time taken away from possible actions we could perform in the present.

God, 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 faith, shown in the action of His giving His Life that we might live, speaks through His actions.  No matter where you turn while reading the Bible, what you find is Action, not Diction.  Recall the second half of the Book of Luke.  It is known as the Acts of the Apostles, not thoughts, not prayers, not meditations, not wishes or anything else; The ACTS.  He expects us to act in our lives, not talk. 

The Gospel provides a great example of how our God is a God of Action.  In the Gospel we see Jesus performing his first 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 that He would perform a miraculous action. Mary truly had the faith that Jesus talked about that could “move mountains.” When He referred to this, He was not talking about moving mountains in the physical sense of sorts, but in obstacles that get in our way in life. 

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

The whole point behind the Gospel is that Jesus, and God is a person of action not just diction. Jesus could have chose 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 that 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 times, however it is harder to perform the right actions at the right times.

Actions truly show our character more than words ever could. So it is important that we pray for the Holy Ghost’s guidance to craft our actions that the light of Christ might show forth through us and that when we reach critical decision points, that we make the right choice and action at the right time.

So, when we act, how should we act?  To the extent you are able attempt to do good to all.   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, with treating them with that respect and kindness. It like many other things Jesus taught is hard to do, it is easy to say however. But we must do our very best to do this, for we shall become better people of His Flock for doing so.  We have the right of self-defense, not of vengeance.  Bring them up, don’t lower yourself. That is the goal, to raise us all up and not lower ourselves to the low standards of this world, but to raise those around us to the heavenly standards.

Like Jesus at the well, remember that your purpose is to help bring people to salvation. We are not called to do any actions that would push people always from salvation, but rather to lead them by example towards that salvation. 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 down that 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.

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 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!

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