Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fourth Sunday after Easter

… Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning
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The Sermon is just below the Propers:

The Fourth Sunday after Easter.
The Collect.

 ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

This week’s Epistle came from the First Chapter of the Epistle of Saint James beginning at the Seventeenth Verse. James tells us we are the pinnacle of God’s creation, destined to be the stewards of His world.  This position has its privileges, but even more important it has its responsibilities.  Most of the time, we seem to concentrate on what we like, the privileges, and forget about those responsibilities which require work, putting off instant gratification, persistence and sometimes courage.  As Saint Paul so often tells us, we must become new people, putting aside our old ways, considerate of what we should do and let ourselves become open to His Word: 

VERY good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

This week’s Holy Gospel came from the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Fifth Verse. 

You must recognize we are imperfect creatures with free will.  For us to do God’s Will, not ours, we need help.  We need that bit of good leaven, which will let our hearts rise to the occasion.  We need the Holy Ghost in our hearts and souls.  Listen as John tells us:

ESUS said unto his disciples, Now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

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.  

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found

The very first phrase is critical to understanding our relationship with the world.  We want to follow our own hearts and they will lead us down the path to Donkey Island and eventually the pit.  This explains the “unruly wills and affections of sinful men.”  Our natural wills and affections are towards sinful things and not that of God. God’s commandments to us are to re-shape our affections from things of mammon, to things of eternity. It requires tweaking our perspective on what is best for us to match with what God knows is the best for us. He knows us far better than we do, and knows what is actually best for us. We have one hope; that we will listen to the instruction God freely offers us.  If we will just do what He asks we will find true joy. 

We have to internalize His commands into our hearts through listening and then through repetition, action, this is the only way we can follow His Commandments and show the World we follow Him. It is not enough to hear the Word only, we need to live the Word. Showing others that we are dedicated to following the Lord, and not just saying that we are following the Lord is how we can truly follow Him. .  Our life will be better when we follow His directions and if we will allow God to rule us and desire His help, we will be able to attain the state of happiness we will then deserve. He knows what is right and what is wrong for us. He does not want us to lead Puritanical lives with no fun allowed whatsoever, but we must have fun the right way and not the wrong way. The right way can lead to a lifetime of happiness, whereas the wrong way can lead to a life time of misery. Many people think that God forbids things for us, because He does not want us to have fun. Nothing can be further from the truth. He forbids things that are harmful for our spiritual well being, and allows us to have clean spiritual, joyous things in our life that will develop our spiritual well being.

We need God’s help (this is one of the places the Holy Ghost comes in) to be able to want for ourselves that which He Wants for us.  If we can desire what He Wants, our ability to follow His Instructions will be much enhanced.

We are God’s creatures, first among all His Creation with all the privileges (which we like) and all the responsibility (which we are not so keen on) which come with that status.  All good comes from God, who is always with us; always the same; a true bearing in world in a constant state of flux. While the world may change, the Word will never change, no matter what happens in the world today. His Word is refreshing constant, in this world where things are changing every few years it seems, but His Word will never change. It’s meaning never changes, as God never changes. As God is truth, which by its nature cannot change, so should we never change in our beliefs towards Him. It is refreshing to have Him in our lives as a constant that we can always cling to when we get in trouble. Whenever it is a simple problem, such as a computer program malfunctioning, or a complex problem, we can turn to Him in our day of trial and find ourselves comforted.  We need to listen to not only Him, but those around us, think before we speak, think more before we act in haste.  We must put ourselves to good and separate ourselves from evil and superfluity of naughtiness so we can hear His Word, which will save our souls.

So, how can we hear?

When Jesus got ready to leave this world for His, He told the disciples that He would send them the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to keep them in Him and to help them understand what they had so far been unable to truly grasp.  Unless we allow the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts, we will never truly understand that which is from God.  This is an important concept with messages that are not from God being bombarded across the world through principalities and powers of this world. Only the Holy Ghost can help us remain grounded within the truth. We need the Holy Ghost to enter into us that we might be able to hear the Word of God, and more important than just hearing the Word, we need the Holy Ghost to be able to act upon the Word. We must allow the Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts and souls so we can understand what God has for us.  It is that simple.  Open your heart, pray for God to send Him into that open heart. 

For with the Holy Ghost’s help, you can hear, understand and act on The Word.

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

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