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Sunday, July 30, 2017
Seventh 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, … author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same (that is to say keep us in goodness)…
To get anywhere, we must acknowledge in our hearts all good is of and comes from God. Once we acknowledge this, we are in a position to ask God to put in to our hearts love of Him and all that is His. This will help us to appreciate and act in goodness. Without His love, our efforts will ultimately be of no avail. We cannot do anything without His help, and with it, it will be easier. There will be times where we fail, but if we turn back to Him, then we shall succeed. When I turn to Him nowadays for help with stuff, that I do far better than if I do not. When I pray for something that I truly need, I find that He answers. I just have to listen to what He says. When I don’t listen to what He says I find that I have a more difficult time than if I do listen and act on what He says. This holds true not just for myself, but all of us who follow under Christ’s banner.
So, pretty clearly we need to be of God. For the world is lost, so we cannot be of the world and expect to be saved. So, we need to be holy, that is, set apart from the world, in our thoughts, deeds and actions. Thus, when Paul wrote to the people of Rome, he was writing to all of us; for truly nothing is new in the world. There is truth to the saying of Solomon’s there is nothing new under the sun. For there is no new sin in the world that has not existed since the time of Adam. It may take different forms over the eons, but all sins are still the same since the dawn of man. Up until the time of Christ, we were still bound in our chains to Satan. We could not pass into the kingdom of heaven, even the Law of Moses could not redeem us, because, on our own we cannot be redeemed. It was only with the coming of Christ, that we could be redeemed.
As Paul says, we have been transformed from servants of sin to servants of the giver of life. God has paid the wages of our sin, through the death and resurrection of His Son. We are called to be worthy of this new life as His servants. We have to truly live our lives as being of God. Being of God, as the adopted sons and daughters of God is truly a marvelous thing. It gives us the ultimate family; the body of Christ, the Church. It gives us the ultimate support system, of God and of our fellow believers. Our fellow believers, who are fellow travelers on the path to paradise, can give us moral support as we traverse the narrow and steep path towards heaven.
Before we are of God, we are of this world. Our life is here, our end is here. Once we are of God, then we are merely sojourners here; our life is not really here and certainly does not end here. We are merely passing through this world as a portal to our new unending life with God. The only way to be of God is through God, that is His Son, our Lord. I am the way, the truth, the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) Jesus himself clearly says the only way to be of God is through Him. Nobody comes unto God but by Christ. What does that mean for those of other faiths? Nobody knows but Christ, what provision – if any – He has made for those who chose not to follow Him here on earth for whatever reason. We do know He always means what He says and no one comes unto the Father (gets into heaven) except through Him. That is clear, beyond any misconstruing. He is the only way, so why not follow the proven way to God and salvation?
If we will follow God, we will live; not only forever in the next world, but better in this world, starting right now, not just after we our earthly time is gone. We must put aside what we did and do what He would have us do. Remembering what we did wrong in the past, so we do not repeat those incorrect actions in the future. Actions are the key to everything. Talk is nice. Action is what counts. We have to act upon our beliefs, which can be very hard sometimes but must be done. I struggle with this myself, but I find returning to God helps with this. He cleans the slate, so I can try again anew. This is always a very comforting thought, that God will always accept you, if you repent and do your best not to make that same error again. This will be a continuous never ending cycle for those who endeavor to do their best to follow Him, make mistakes, then get back up and try our best again.
The key word is doing our best and not just saying we are doing our best when we aren't. We know we are doing our best, when we have done all we can in a given situation, according to our abilities. There are days that we do less than others, but so long as we have done our very best in those situations, we can feel reassured we have acted for Him. Let us put aside our excuses, which are feeble and weak and concentrate on acting for Him.
Acting is the key element of the Christian faith, for without action, there is no evidence of faith. You need faith, that is true, through the Holy Spirit, but you also need to back up that faith with actions. Your actions on this Earth, determine who you really have faith in, God or man. The only sure support source is God, because He will never let you down, He will always be faithful and true. We can always rely on him for guidance and strength in very stressful times.
He is the one who we should always look to for guidance when times get tough. In fact, we should expect, if we follow Him, things will get difficult, especially when it gets nearer to His coming. For we will be persecuted for His Name’s sake. By those who are doing what they think is right, when they are really doing what is wrong. They will think they are doing God a favor by their acts, when really they are working for the other guy. We must hold fast and persevere in following God and Scripture. We will get our righteous reward in the end for doing so. Acting for Him may not always be easy, but rest assured it is always the right thing to do in the end.
In the end, it may not be the quickest way, but the path of following Him is the best way. Rather than take the so called ‘shortcuts’ Satan offers, that lead down the broad and wide path, let us take the harder, narrower path that He offers, that will lead us to Paradise. Many will choose the former path, for varying reasons, but in the end, it will not profit them. Our path may not profit us much on earth, in monetary wealth, but it will profit us in a priceless less gift; eternal life in heaven.
Saint Mark tells us of action. Jesus had been in the wilderness teaching a multitude, some four thousand in number. In those pre-restaurant on every corner days, the people had been without food and were hungry. Jesus was concerned and inventoried their supplies, seven loaves and a few small fishes. He gave thanks to God, and commanded the food to be set out before the people. When they had eaten their fill, the scraps gathered up from the seven loaves filled seven baskets.
Many speculated over the years as to just how He did it. The answer is simple; He did it. He did not talk about feeding the multitude and then sit down to His own meal. He acted and they were fed. The clear message of the story is action, and the whys and hows behind all of it does not matter as much as the simple message that He did it. It is all too easy to get wrapped around in fine details, when it is the bigger picture that matters. The clear moral of this story is that He acted, not just talked, but He actually acted and fed the people. That is a model we should follow, not just talk but act as well. It serves as a template for our ministries here on Earth, to follow this plan of action and not just diction. Our love for God will be demonstrated through our actions, if we act for Him. Does this story recall the words from the Last Supper used in Holy Communion at the Consecration? “he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me.” Those few words produced The Word, which has satisfied so many over millenniums. It does not take a lot of words to satisfy us, but they have to be the right ones, which come from Our Lord.
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
 9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
 In some respects, this is a key to the Bible. Regardless of our own self-centered thoughts, we are the same people since Adam and will be until the end of time. Thus he who writes the Romans just as well writes to us. We would like to think we are better, but we are not. We are the same. But, on the other hand, that is convenient for what worked for them will work for us.