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Sunday, June 12, 2016
Third Sunday after Trinity
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:
… hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities …
The Collect starts as they often do by asking God to hear us. It seems to me that this is rather odd a thing to ask as He hears us all the time; the problem is that when we need His Help we so rarely ask, then when He answers, we will not hear Him. That being said, when we do accept the Holy Ghost’s Help to pray, we can expect to receive spiritual, mental and physical comfort from God. But, as the old radio talk show personality Bruce Williams was fond of saying, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” So, ask. And don’t be afraid to ask, as God can help us with whatever difficulties we happen to be facing. No problem is too big for God to solve in our lives. We are talking about the same God who parted the waters of the Red Sea, who inflicited the 12 plagues on the Egyptians, who took Abraham and made him the patriarch of a great nation, whose Son rose up from the dead. With all of these deeds and many more that He has done, do you think your problems are too big for Him to handle? I do not think so! We just have to trust in Him that He can and will help us. We just have to let him into our hearts, souls and minds and gives us the guidance that we need to carry out actions for Him on this Earth.
When we ask for help and get it, we get great results. But, when we get those results, who should really get the credit? As Peter tells us in his epistle, we should not spend or time being proud of what we have been given, rather we should use those gifts to the benefit of those around us. God should be the one who gets the credit, it is all His doing in the end and not ours. We have been given His Grace and Inspiration, and all of our talents are sourced from Him, who is our creator. It is wasteful of our talent to be bragging about it, but to effectively use our talents, we should use it to further God’s work here on Earth instead of focusing on ourselves. This is what He wants for us, to paraphrase the Great Commission, to carry out the Word to all Nations and Baptize all of them who would believe on His Son Jesus, in Jesus’ Name. He will give us the needed guidance and talents to carry out this magnificent task. He gives us these talents so that this task will be accomplished. They are not for our own personal gain, but to be used to glorify Him who created us. This is a far more glorious task than using the talents for our own self serving purposes.
When we have troubles, we should bring them to God and ask Him to carry our concerns and worries so that we might tend to the tasks set before us. We cannot do this mission alone, we desperately need His help at all times, which is something everybody struggles with. But fortunately for us we have the Church as our wonderful support system, the Body of Christ, to give us assistance here on Earth. And we also have the assistance of the Holy Spirit to guide us and inspire us in our actions.
However before we can get his help, we must first ask for his help and be willing to listen to Him. Often times He answers and we do not hear, due to our selfishness, we must clear our ears and be able and willing to listen to His response to us. That is critical if we are to follow the principles our Lord has set forth for us. The biggest message in the Bible, which repeats, is that actions have more meaning than mere words. We must try to have our actions fit our words of belief.
We must pay attention to the world around us and take care not to fall prey to the devil, for he is constantly looking for ways to help us drift off our path towards heaven. We must keep situational awareness at all times, so we do not fall into any of his traps that he has laid out for us. You must understand that other Christians come from the same pool you do, humanity, they have the same frailties and problems you do. We all are the sinful creatures in the pattern of Adam. The word pictures painted of “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” is both vivid and true! It is not enough to just not follow the devil and look to him for help. We must actively turn away his so called help and look to God for Guidance, Help and Comfort. We must fight our evil nature which would lead us towards the side of the devil and to follow the voice of our Creator, of His Son Jesus, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and stand fast in His Word.
Hang in there and do your very best, God will take care of you in the end. There are none so poor as cannot purchase a noble death. Never ever forget that.
Trust in God and dread naught. For there are sufficient evils to the day thereof, as Christ said (Matthew 6:34 KJV). There will always be a form of evil in the world, because of our nature, but we will also have the goodness of Christ within us, through the Holy Spirit, to withstand that temptation in the times of trial. That is a great comfort we always will have, and also it will be easier to bear these trials, knowing that Christ has prepared a place for us in His Father’s House.
When Saint Luke tells that Jesus not only talked to “sinners” but broke bread and ate with them, he related a story that was a particular concern to the Pharisees. They were quite appalled that those who were particularly sinners in their very qualified eyes were attracted to Jesus. They knew a sinner when they saw one (except in the mirror) and were quite certain sinners would never get in to heaven. But, not only did Jesus appeal to the sinners, He even talked to them. My goodness, He went so far as to break bread with them and engage them in conversation at meat! We should not be like the Pharisees and make a proud and loud show of how we are better than anybody else (not true, some of us are less worse than others but none better), and act “superior” to the modern day Gentiles, the non-believers. If we act like that, we give Christianity a bad name. It does not need any more help getting a bad name, with the lies of Satan spreading around the world, so let us act in the manner that Christ would have us act and show the world the light of Christ.
This really bothered the the Pharisees who thought they knew everything there was to know about the Law. They counted upon the Law saving them. They were wrong, as it is Our Lord Jesus who saves, and the fact he talks and engages the sinners, meant that He cares for each person in this World deeply, and loves them enough to die for them. All they have to do is accept Him and follow Him. The Pharisees just could not grasp this.
With a clear view of the inner most thoughts of their hearts, Jesus the Pharisees the story of the shepherd who loses a sheep and searches for it. When he finds it he carries it back to the flock on his shoulders. He goes on to tell the story of the woman who loses a piece of silver and turns her house inside out to find it. That story ends in a very interesting word play in English, “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece (peace) which I had lost.” Jesus ends the story with, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
The moral of the parable is that Jesus is all about saving the sinners, not those who are already “righteous.” But for us, there are none who are already “righteous.” I liken the church as a hospital for sinners. And all of the saints were sinners in the past too, to paraphrase my mother. Having said that, there is also joy when we do not sin, but choose God’s way. And we enjoy it more also. So it is preferable if we do not sin in the first place, but if we can’t do that, then God finds joy when we truly repent and turn back to Him and ask for His help and be willing to listen.
Notice Jesus’ actions when He finds a lost sheep, He carries it back to the flock on His shoulders with a smile on His face. He rejoices in each lost soul saved. This is what the Church is about, bringing lost souls to Our Shepherd of Souls, Our Savior, Our Advocate, Jesus Christ, to His Kingdom of Heavenly Joys.
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