Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

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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:

… keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power …

In the Collect, we are asking God to keep His People (that is US) in line with His Wishes, not our own, so that we might be defended by Him.  We of course need the Holy Ghost to help keep us in line with His Wishes, to enable us to be defended by Him. We need to be acting in accordance with His Will before He can defend us. We cannot expect Him to defend us from the slings and arrows of this world if we will not line up behind Him.  This is a pretty simple concept, but one that escapes so many.   We find God being blamed by people who do what they want, not what He wants them to do.

Our problems are not caused by God or by following Him, they are caused by us and not following His will and guidance. We find that if we follow God and do what He asks, our problems will be more easily solvable than if we do not. However, on the flip side, if we do not follow God and His Word, then we find that our problems are never solved and it makes our life here on Earth much harder than if we turn to Him.

The truth of the matter is that it is not God we should blame; the blame rather lies with us. We are the cause of all our problems due to our inherent nature of pride, vanity, and other aspects of our sinful fallen nature. We need His help to cure us of this dreadful sickness known as Sin. It is not a surprise a lot of Jesus's miracles were healing of various long suffering people with sickness. In a way, they are of themselves allegorical, He heals us of our sins, as He healed them of their physical sickness.

Sin is of course a sickness, a spiritual one, and it is like cancer in that there is really no cure for it without God’s intervention. God’s intervention is of course the Holy Ghost, who will not come in unless invited. So, in order to be healed of our sins, we need to recognize we have the sickness and refer to the appropriate physicians, the Holy Ghost and God, for treatment.

The treatment He prescribes is to accept the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the reading and digesting of Holy Scripture. This multi-step process will be one constantly repeating through ought our entire lifetime until we are called Home to be with Him. While we will never be able to fully stop sinning while we are here on Earth, He expects us to limit the sinning to the best of our abilities.

When we do fall out of step from time to time with the great physician’s instructions, we are called to return to Him, repent and do our very very best to go forth and sin no more. This means we have to renew our efforts continually to not walk in sin and darkness and to follow the narrow, uphill lighted path towards Heaven.

Paul reminds us that God wants us to treat others as we would be treated; having “a heart of compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another…”  Jesus forgave us, stood in our place, accounted us (who are guilty of capital crimes) as perfect.  We are no more worthy than the next human being to get into heaven on our merits alone. Our merits do not outweigh our multitude grave offences we have committed by the virtue simple fact we are sinners. Yet, we want to hold a grudge against someone for leaving us alone a few minutes too long.  How is that right?

In addition to being forgiving, we are to be sharing of His Word and joyful while doing it!  Let us think about Psalm 100, the Jubilate Deo:

 BE joyful in the Lord, all ye lands: * serve the Lord  with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.
 vBe ye sure that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; * we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
   O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; * be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.
   For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting; * and his truth endureth from generation to generation.

Does this psalm not give a lot of insight into how we are to live our lives?

So, what if we choose not to live our lives God’s Way, but rather our way?  Did you ever notice weeds normally flourish far above the crop plants?  While they oft succeed in growing taller and quicker, they are not useful. They bear no benefit to a farmer’s harvest and they contribute absolutely nothing to the nature around them.  A wise farmer will let them abide in the field and separate them out at the harvest. God is that wise farmer, who will sift us out before His judgment seat. So, while we still have time, let us repent and turn back to Him and give thanks for His mercy! Jesus reminds us our lives here on earth can be that way.  Those who follow the Prince of this World oft soar in earthly riches far above us; when their time here is done, their destination is not the same as ours. In the end, we shall be soaring high above them in Heaven, while they will be in the Pit.

Follow God’s will and you will do well enough in earthly riches, which are transient in nature, but we will have for “…ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (St. Matt. vi. 19, 20)

It is our actions here that count, what we do in response to the eternal life Jesus has given us.  Will we throw it away or use it wisely?

Error is error, wrong is not right.  But, a person’s final destination is up to God, not us. We might think certain individuals may be beyond redemption, but their eternal fate is beyond our speculation and is ultimately up to God. During the journey of life down that time space continuum we need to do our best to keep us moving towards God and not away from Him. We also need to keep others around us moving towards Him as well, by the example that we set here. We need to be sure we are setting a good example and not a bad one. The direction is always clear, sometimes we just do not want to read the signs. So, let us trust and turn to God, He is our infallible navigator, if we will but listen to Him and act upon his instructions we shall navigate through every storm and trial in our lives with the least pain.

If we understand we are less than perfect, actually far less than imperfect, we have a good start.  We know we need God in our lives to give us direction.  We need His guidance to direct our ACTION.

Read the Bible, find out what He wants you to do, then Do It.  What can you do today to carry out His Will?  There are a multitude of things you can DO to carry out His Will, but the question is, “Will you?”

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits.  Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

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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