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Sunday, July 17, 2016
Eighth 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 the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God who … ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; … to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us …
We must understand in our hearts that God does indeed “ordereth all things” here as well as in heaven. Once we understand that, then we can ask Him to keep us away from those things hurtful to us and incline our hearts towards those things that are good for us. This is one of the many things for which we need the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in our hearts. Without His Help, we cannot recognize the help we need. We tend to think of ourselves as perfectable by our own work, without the need to depend on others (Him). The problem is, it does not work. And it cannot ever work this way. If it did work this way, then God would not have sent His Son Jesus to come down and die for our sins and account us as perfect. And yet, we cannot seem to figure this out on our own. To try what clearly does not work over and over again, is the very definition of insanity. On the other hand, if we look to God for help, for guidance, for direction, for course correction, for strength, for structure, for the ability to persevere, there is nothing that must be done that cannot be done.
In other words, on our own we cannot do anything that works, but with God’s help, we can do things that work! It is not because of us, that we can do things that work, but because God is acting within us with the help of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is key to following God here on Earth. He is our lifeline to salvation, giving us the resources that we need to be able to follow His Will. He can help us put aside our fears, worries, concerns and do what we need to do. It may not necessarily be what we want to do, but in the end, it is better than anything we could want to do. God asks only that we do our very best. By the way, do not confuse saying you are doing your best with actually doing it. There is a difference between words and actions!
The difference lies in what our actions convey. Do our actions convey faith or disbelief? If we are true followers of Christ, then our actions will convey faith. If we are not of Christ, our actions will convey unbelief. I know what I want my actions to convey, do you? Our faith means nothing, if it is not evident in our actions. We would then not have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ within us, who saves us. It is not our faith that saves us, but Him who rose and died for our sins. It is the faith of Jesus Christ that has saved us and not our own faith. Our own faith did not account us as perfect, His Faith, by dying on the cross for our sins did. Let us not confuse our faith, with His Faith that saved us, by His Actions.
He acted for us and not only talked the talk as it were, but walked the walk as well. He cannot be truly within us unless we ask for Him to come in and help guide our actions. We cannot buy our way into heaven, nor any other way we can think of will get us into heaven, but the way that God provided for us, will get us into heaven, that of His Son Jesus Christ, who was sent to die for our sins that we would have eternal life, to all that believe upon His name. BELIEVE, is the key word. To truly BELIEVE, you must act in a Christly manner, believe that He died for our sins, and to live out the faith as preached by Him. If you do not believe any one of the tenants of the Nicene Creed, then you cannot be considered a Christian, for all of the elements necessary to be a Christian are consolidated into the Creed. It summarizes the story of the Gospel into a Creed that we acknowledge and believe. It summarizes it into a creed that we Christians are called to follow, believe and spread through the world. We are not called to just mindlessly repeat this creed, but we are to truly think upon each point in the Creed, and think about what it means for us and our salvation, and act upon this Creed.
There are 66 books in the Bible, of those 27 are in the New Testament, of those Saint Paul wrote 13, almost half! More than anyone. Paul gives much of the guidance and direction we call The Word of God. Yet, his message is very simple. People claim to find it hard to grasp, which mostly means they don’t want to hear it. If they truly did want to hear it, they would not offer up those excuses! Today, Paul tells us, much like last week, that if we are of this world, we die of this world. Pretty simple message, right? Yet if we will accept our adoption by God, we will be entitled to call Him Abba, or Daddy. We have been emancipated from the bondage of sin and are now freemen under the promise of eternal life.
What a wonderful gift this is. We are no more beholden to sin, no more under the eternal debt of sin, but we have been freed from that terrible master Death, and now we have a absolutely perfect master in God. He truly is the most perfect master for us, better than we could be of ourselves. Which is why we are truly not worthy of being a master of another human and why slavery has never truly worked. We ourselves were in slave to sin, and in no condition to be a master of anyone. For that was why we were in the bondage of the sin prior to the coming of Christ. We humans, both Gentiles and Jews, could not overcome that most terrible and natural malady of sin. But God came up with the perfect way, the One Way, His Son Jesus Christ to die for us that we might gain a bridge between this earth and life eternal.
In order for us to truly be adopted, we have to be willing to follow Him and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, here on earth, for better or for worse, in times good and in bad, and never give up, never give in and always focusing our minds on how we can best serve Him. To truly show we are adopted Sons and Daughters of God, we must be willing to act in a manner worthy of this adoption. We will fail at times, that is true, but the key is that we always return to Our Lord, ask for His forgiveness, and start again a new, acting in a manner worthy of being adopted Sons and Daughters of the Great High King, God the Father Almighty.
For, if we are His children, then we gain His Birthright and all resulting from that status. Again, this is simple, but following as His Children can be a fairly difficult task, if we try to do things without His guidance it will not go as well. Actually, without His Guidance, we cannot do anything that is great or worthy. But with His Guidance, we can do all things! While we may have some cause for suffering here on earth, the resultant glory will all be well worth it. The problem with this is that while we are all willing to suffer (just not today) we are so often not willing to put off what we want to do now for what God wants us to do. We justify doing what we want, while ignoring what God clearly told us He Wants. We look for people who claim authority who will tell us what we want to hear.
We need to realize if we put off what we need to do now, in the future it will make things for us here harder. So if we do what we need to do today, we will have the satisfaction of doing what He wants for us today and not having put it off until tomorrow which will never come for us. Once again, it is what we want, not what He Wants. What He wants will ultimately result in our salvation, what we want will ultimately result in our eternal damnation. I know which way I want to go, do you?
That leads right in to the point Jesus said in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew when He Tells us to take great care in who we choose to follow. There are many today who seem to say the right things, but do the other. We must focus on their actions and see how it matches their spoken claims.
There are far too many so called ministers out there saying what at first glance appears to be the right thing, but in reality their actions do not show they believe. To paraphrase scripture, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. In the case of individuals like Creflo Dollar, we can see that his treasure is in mammon wealth of this world and His heart is not set on following God. This duplicitous nature is not becoming of those who would be ministers of God.
Therefore, those men cannot be true ministers of God, but must be false prophets. Scripture has been given to provide an unchanging standard against which we should judge the words and actions of those who would lead us towards God. Jesus tells us to listen to those who preach of the Gospel and discard the words of those whose teachings are not congruent with The Word. To quote President Reagan, “Trust, but verify.” Does what the person say match with The Word?
We all have Bibles, most the Authorized Version. Does what the person preach match what God has said? Does their life live that talk? We do not want to follow people that produce evil, corrupted fruit, but good and plentiful and delicious fruit! A good tree will not bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot ever bear good fruit! So is it with our actions, if we truly do our best to follow Him, our actions will produce good fruit; if we don’t, we will produce bad fruit.
Actually, that brings us to another point, does the Bible you use match the real Word of God. It is not the grammar or style that counts, but the facts, the points, the real message of Scripture. The Authorized Version comes from the Received Text and is reliable. Make certain the version you use loses nothing in the translation. The modern versions use corrupted manuscripts omitting a large number of verses that corrupt the message of the New Testament, and in the case of John 3:16 for example, dilute Jesus Christ’s status as the only begotten son of God. The newer Bibles also are copyrighted so “Man” owns it, and not the author of Scripture, God our Father. In this case, these newer Bibles are not Bibles at all, but doctrine books of men set on not following Scripture.
So once you let the Holy Ghost into your heart, then take the direction He Offers, read and understand Scripture, you will know what you are supposed to do. Then, you need to actually act on that knowledge.
Action counts. For by their actions ye shall know them.
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
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