Sunday, June 19, 2016
Fourth Sunday after Trinity
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:
… protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal…
We desperately need God’s Help, yet paradoxically, God can only help us if we put our trust in Him, we can never be strong, nor set aside to Him, if we do not let Him be our leader. No one can be their own leader, no one. Each of us, no matter our position, must have a immutable directional reference or we become hopelessly lost. For navigation, we have a magnetic compass or better yet the Pole Star, Polaris, which will tell us True North so we can keep headed in the right direction. People have died of starvation in a closely wooded area less than a mile across because they became lost while following their own sense of direction. By definition, they were always less than 3,000 feet from safety, yet they died after many days. So it is with our spirits.
Like Peter, if we are separated from Christ, then we too shall become lost. But if we have the Holy Ghost, we are not separated from God and Chirst and will thus become stronger. So if we have the Holy Ghost in our heart, he will both strengthen us and help us to holy, that is set aside. He can also help us be merciful to other people. We just need to listen to what the Holy Ghost says and act upon it.
We need a leader to follow. We cannot be our own leaders. If we try to become our own leaders, it will not work. But if we will follow His lead, we will pass through this world in good order and go on to the next in eternal happiness. This is a very common theme within Scripture, do what God asks, be happy. Don’t do what God asks, don’t be happy. It seems simple enough in theory, but a lot harder in practice. It is a lot easier said or thought about than done. We want to do what we want to have fun, God wants us to do what we need to do to be happy. Fun and Happy do not mean the same thing, sometimes, actually oft times, used interchangeably, their meaning is orders of magnitude different.
God is the only one who we should be concerned about, if we follow Him, then those who really matter will like us for who we are and how we conduct ourselves while following God and those who don’t are of no concern. Do what is right, avoid what is wrong and you will be happy is a basic principle of the Christian faith.
Paul builds on this, telling us that walking God’s path, though it may seem hard at the time, is nothing compared to the reward we receive in heaven for following God’s will. Let us think about that the next time we are struggling with an issue, whatever it may be. In the end, our reward will outweigh all of our struggles, if we will but keep our eye on the true prize. Our struggles here on Earth in the eternal view will not be as big as what our eternal reward will be, if we but stay the course that God has set for us. God gave us free will, which if we exercise it properly, that is the will to overcome temptation. What at first seems like a constrained way of living, once actually lived is really perfect freedom. It only seems constrained, because we cannot conceive how following His Word will allow us true freedom. If we overcome temptation to do what we want and do what God wants, we will receive the gift of eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. For until Christ, there was no delivery from the pain of worldly existence; through Christ there is redemption of our souls and our resulting bodily resurrection. This is the great gift that Christ has given us, the redemption of our souls and our entry into Heaven, by his sacrifice made once for all time, He secured our entrance into heaven. This is a gift that we should always be thankful for.
Luke presents a simple message, yet one that is often misunderstood, with majestic language which brings the message to a point of incredible sharpness. We are to be a guide to others to Christ, yet we cannot help others until our own problems are on the way to “solvation”, that is being solved through the salvation offered by Christ. We need to follow Him, before we ask others to follow us. After all, if we are not going in the right direction, what positive value is there in others following us? We do not want to be leading others towards The Pit, rather, we want to be sure we are on the right path before we guide others along the path. We should be pathfinders, finding the correct path to travel on the journey of life! We must be honest in our appraisal of ourselves so we can do what we are supposed to. We also must not judge unrighteously, but judge with righteous judgment through the Holy Ghost. This means not judging others for sins yourself are committing, but are ignoring for the sake of “judging” your neighbors”, or to put it simply without the Holy Ghost, all of our judgments are unrighteous. This is what Christ was talking about, and after it, condemn not, lest ye be condemned. When he said use righteous judgement, he was talking about judging people’s behavior by the standards of Scripture, not condemnation. He was talking about using the Scriptures as the standard for judging individual’s behavior. He does not mean us to condemn others. This is connected with the parable of the mote. Often times when we are tempted to condemn somebody, we often ignore our own failures and focus on theirs. Let us get our act together first, before we help others. So, how can we, imperfect as we are, be honest with ourselves? The answer is easy, hard to implement, but easy! The Holy Ghost! Let Him into your heart and do what you are told. Simple, yet hard to do. We want to do what we want to do. But yet, it is what must be done, no matter how hard it seems at the time. It will get easier as we do it, but it will never be truly easy. But it is way easier than the alternative, which is not following God’s Word.
Speaking of doing, what we do to others is a good measure of how we follow God’s Will and Direction. We are expected to treat others as we would be treated. Our real earthly fortune, as well as are eternal lives, are a reflection of our commitment to God.
We are so ready to condemn the performance of others when our own is even worse. It is common within all of us, especially me particularly. As Paul tells us, “all fall short.” The operative word here is ALL. If we look to condemn and repair our own spiritual lives before condemning others, we will be better suited to help them. Our beam before their mote.
For only when we have taken care of our own spiritual health by looking to God for help to evaluate and improve how we follow His Word, we will be able to effectively spread the Word of His love for us.
And that is our job, to improve ourselves to effectively spread His Word by example; our action, not our diction, is the measure.
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