Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the second Sunday before Lent.

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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 toforewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

…put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity …

In the Collect, we tell God we put our trust for eternal life not in our actions, but in His Power.  If we do this, then we must do as He asks us.  For, to make trust in His Power rational, we must follow His Direction. We cannot trust our own sense of direction for spiritual matters, but must look to Our Heavenly Father for guidance. If we do not follow His Direction then we are surely going be just as lost as before we accepted Him into our hearts. It would be foolish to think that we could guide ourselves, when in fact we need Him to guide us. The problem is that often, at least in my case, pride gets in the way of seeing that I/we need to rely on Him for guidance. We need Him as our navigator to guide us along the rocky paths of life, so we don’t crash into the rocks of Sin and Death! We need His directions if we are to proceed upon the path to Heaven.

The Collect also goes on to explain His Power will give us defense in adversity. His Power is the only real power which can help us in times of trouble and sorrow. It is the only power which will give us comfort in times of adversity and give us the strength to get through those times. 

We may think we can get ourselves through trouble, but that is only us deceiving ourselves.  Thinking this way can lead us digging ourselves a bigger hole so to speak. We need to stop digging and look to the One who can help us and let Him into our hearts to guide us. We need to recognize God has the power to help us overcome adversity. 

All the goodness and greatness we have within us, is not sourced from us, but from the Holy Spirit and God. It comes from God and He fills our hearts with the goodness we ourselves cannot generate on our own. In order to have that goodness within us, we need to be following His Directions to the very best of our abilities. It may be hard at times and we might make mistakes and fall down from time to time, but we need to get back up on the horse so to speak and re set our course anew.

This squares with what Paul tells us, salvation, honor and glory come not from what we do or have done, but rather from God.  It is not our deeds which procure our salvation, but God and His Son’s deeds. Our deeds next to His are not comparable and are not worthy of the honor and glory that His are. We must recognize this fact and we should turn to Him, not ourselves, for guidance.  Following His Word is where the salvation, honor and glory come from. And that is also to whom we should give credit and not us. We haven't earned the credit; so we should give it to whom it is due, that is to God our Father. 

Nothing that we have done as far as anything good or significant is not from us on our own volition, but from God. He will guide us through all of our life’s trials, if we let him.  That is one of the problems with many people today, and not only today but in the past, the present and the future, is that they believe that they have made their own goodness and own deeds. They do not realize they are not the source of their good deeds, but God is. They do not recognize the role God has in guiding good actions and instead lay claim to the glory that isn’t theirs to claim. In essence, they are stealing God’s glory and not giving credit to whom credit is due. Paul, who as Saul, had been a super star on his way to being the number one rabbi in the Hebrew nation, was more learned, more vigorous in following the law, more vocal in all things.  When he “saw the light” and converted, he took that same approach to Christianity.  No one was more in anything than he.  He had been the worst of the worst and was the best of the best.  Yet, through God, now he was keenly aware of how short he himself fell.  But even more importantly, he was keenly aware of the saving perfection of Christ. 

From his early days as the chief persecutor of the Church, to the main missionary of Christ’s Church, from this timeline he could tell us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example. He told us these things not to glory himself, but to show the glory and honor that comes from on high, from following His Word. He wanted to show us how God’s Grace and mercy changed His life and got Him through some pretty awful times. And also, He can get us through both the good and bad times and that in both we should never stop praising and honoring Him. He wanted to highlight God’s saving power and Grace, which had helped him, and show us how it can help us as well. He wanted us, other Christians to learn from his example and to do their best to follow Him. Thus, he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves.  Do your best and look towards God.

This brings us right in to the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike.  

Like the seed sown by the sower, The Word is spread throughout the world for all to hear and act on:

·      Yet, some will not even hear The Word (Hard ground);
·      Others will hear, act quickly and abandon God’s help at the first sign of adversity (Stony ground);
·      Still others will hear The Word, but The Word is overtaken by the “pleasures” of this world and is choked out by them.  Like the line from the Bible, where your money is, that is your worldly effort, there is the evidence of your heart.  The temptation of this world is great, the reward from God is far greater, but you have to look long term;
·      Finally, we come to those who accept and act on The Word, like the one seed growing into a great plant bearing its fruit, the rewards are manifold, though the effort is also great, the end reward far greater.  For the seed to grow to full fruition and glory, with its manifold blessings, it must have the ground prepared, carefully tended against encroachment of the evil weeds, it must be continually watered by the life blood of those around it.  There is much effort required on our part, but the ultimate reward is so much greater.

While we are on the subject, consider the issue of weeding.  Is this not part of the reason for the Church, that is to say the body of believers, to exist?  Often we cannot pull our own weeds, but we can help others and they can help us.  We cannot pull our weeds alone, but with help, we can remove them one by one. Christianity is not a religion of hermits; it is a social religion where we can help each other.  This is why it is best that believers attend a Bible believing Church, where they can get valuable friendship and from that friendship, spiritual mentoring for their day to day lives.

So, think about this, we need to understand eternal life and indeed on a shorter term, happiness in our life here, comes not from our self-directed actions, but those of God and our action following His direction. If we follow our self-directed actions, we will find death and misery awaiting us. However, if we put our trust in Him and follow His commands, we will “live long and prosper” to quote Spock. Do your best and look towards God for the Light to illuminate your path.  If you prepare your heart, as the farmer prepares the field, root out the forces of this world as the farmer roots out weeds, cultivate the good given by God, water your heart with His Water, your life will be manifold.

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?

Action, not diction.  It is by our actions we are known!

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

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