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Sunday, February 22, 2015
First Sunday in Lent
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.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory …
In the Collect, we ask God to help us to subdue our natural evil tendencies so that we can live life here His way and honour His wishes so we can be truly happy. Without His help, we end up with what we want, not what we need. We are asking him to help us fight our human nature and follow His divine nature, we are attempting to replace our nature with that of God’s. It will be a long and difficult road that we must travel, doing this, but we are going to be much happier in the long run if we at least try. Do or do not, there is no try, Yoda is quoted as saying, and I have found it applicable here and in my own life. We have to act, not just say we are going to act, but we have to actually physically perform ACTIONS1
Want and Need; two words, used interchangeably in both our speech and thought that do not mean the same thing. Think about that!
Following the thought of the Collect, Paul asks us to be worthy of the grace God has given us. He tells the people when they needed him, he was there. They need to be there for those around them. They must not frustrate God’s work by showing up late, or not at all. We have to put in our 110% for Him, as He sent His Son to die for us and redeem us, so we should truly show our gratitude for His act, by serving others and performing actions for Him, with His Help. We are outnumbered fiercely in this world, by the enemies of God. We are like the men in the Battle of Ia Drang (also related to being Paul’s message, the sacrifice of Kenneth Ogles and his fellow men in the Vietnam theatre, as well as those in WWI, WWII and before, and now.), fiercely outnumbered by the enemy, they did not just sit on their hands and wait for the enemy to come. They did something about it, they took action, otherwise they were going to be overrun by the North Vietnamese. We have to always keep moving, like the article I read this morning about Wally Kaenzig, a 93 year old man who is one of the last survivors of the Iwo Jima, he said on Iwo, the big deal was to keep moving so you didn’t get hit. We want to keep moving and avoid getting hit by the forces of evil, if we are to minister effectively. Like them, we cannot just sit and wait, else we will be overrun by the Forces of Satan.
Those around us are watching our actions in the time of testing. God is also watching us in the time of testing to see how we perform with the talents He has given us. Make no mistake it is a hard battle we are fighting, against the forces of wickedness, of the Devil all across the globe. The key to winning this battle for souls is to never ever ever give up and to trust in God and Dread Naught. We have been given eternal salvation by Jesus’ sacrifice, the understanding of the Gospel by the Holy Ghost. We are at this time dying here on earth, yet progressing towards eternal life in the next world, in Jesus’ world with His help. While we may never be wealthy here on earth, our actions can make our fellow Christians wealthy in spirit beyond measure.
If you claim to be a Christian, you know what is right. If you are a Christian, you do what is right, you don’t take a vote to see what the right course of action might be. Right does not change with public opinion and we must do the right thing. In fact the public opinion often times is rather in the wrong, see peoples opinions on homosexual marriage and abortion to reference this. This is because of our fallen nature. We must go especially against the grain to become Christians. The truth does not change, as it is the constant that never changes. God is the Truth, The Word and the Life of this universe. It is our actions that count, in good times or bad. We are Christ’s ambassadors to this world; unfortunately we do not have diplomatic immunity.
When the devil attempted to tempt Christ, he shows how little he knows of Him. If we emulate our Lord, it shows how little the devil will be able to tempt us with his deceit. If we follow Him we will be able to withstand any temptation that arises as our Lord showed for us in the desert 2,000 years ago.
Consider how little the devil really offers you and how much Christ offers, the temptation is ever so much less. The devil is often referred to as the deceiver or dissimulator. His forte is deception, he seems one thing, is another. He offers what he has no intention or ability to deliver. He ignores the inevitable result of accepting his proffered help or inside track. Jesus has more for us than the devil can ever hope to offer, the promise of eternal life with Him and His Father. The devil can never offer us anything close to that. We have to remember this next time the Deciever comes and tempts us for earthly riches and treasures. We also have to remember that mammon cannot make us happy, only serving God can make us truly happy.
He clearly knows Jesus is the Son of God. There is no doubt in his mind. So, having understood that, consider what he offers Jesus in temptation.
Remember, Jesus has fasted 40 days OF HIS OWN CHOICE; now comes the devil daring Him to show His Power by turning the stone into bread. This to the Son of He who delivered manna daily to the Jews in the wilderness for 40 years.
Cast thyself down and let angels catch thee; this to He who walked on water.
Up to the mountain lookout – Here is it all yours if you worship me. This to He who as it says in Psalm 95:
In his hand are all the corners of the earth; * and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it; * and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down, * and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God; * and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
The devil promised Jesus nothing that was his to give, nothing that would help Jesus in the real world beyond the Shadowlands. He never does. The devil is all about shortcuts. Remember, if the shortcut was the best way, it would not be a shortcut
The temptation of Jesus is no different than his attempt to tempt us! The devil never delivers what we need, only what we, in our imperfect want. Remember as little as the devil understands of Christ, the same way, as we are in God, so he understands little of us. He will never offer you real help. Remember that and the temptation is ever so much less.
Or, as my grandfather said, “Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole”
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
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