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Sunday, July 23, 2017
Sixth 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.
… who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire …
We acknowledge God will give those who love Him more good than they can imagine, let alone ask for. But, first you have to love Him. So, what should we ask for? The Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts so we might truly love Him. If we do, more good will come to us than we can even imagine or hope for. The Holy Ghost is a key element of love, without Him we cannot even love Him. If we cannot love others, how can we love Him who we have not seen? He gives us far more love than we can possibly deserve.
That is the great and wonderful news about following our Lord. He has love for the entire world, if they would turn from their sinful ways and follow Him. This is the message we are bringing to the world. God loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son on the cross to die for us, so we and all who believe on Him might have everlasting life. This is truly the Good News, for we were once condemned to hellfire, but now through our Lord’s sacrifice are going to be allowed to enter into heaven, though we are imperfect creatures.
We are imperfect creatures, created with free will by a Perfect Being. To get into Heaven’s Gate, we need be accounted as perfect before the Judge. That requires a bit of an accounting irregularity, to account imperfection as perfection. And that is exactly what Jesus’ death on the cross did for us. It allows us imperfect creatures accounted as perfect before the great Judge, Our Father in heaven.
So, what does the Collect counsel, ask for the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts that we might get more than we can desire! Jesus! Jesus is that accounting irregularity. He can give us his guidance and grace via the Holy Ghost, to make us better men and women of the Lord. By His Sacrifice, made one time, for all mankind, for all time, we are accounted as perfect by His Faith and Action. Thus, through His Faith and His Action, we attain life everlasting. That eternal life doesn’t start when you die either! Starting today, you don’t have to wait until you die to benefit from your immortality.
In fact, God would prefer you to start acting like you will live forever right now. Thus, decisions you make, actions you take will be with the long term view of eternity! Versus our rather usual shortsighted short term view, we must think in the terms of the big picture, not the tiny speck in the picture. Think of the clear vision of the big picture and not just the small, close in picture. We must keep focused on the big picture, touching down at Heaven’s Gate. To get to that touchdown point, we have to align our actions in the pattern of life with God’s Word, make our actions consistent with our stated belief in God’s Word. Like flying, this will require a lot of adjustment. Think of how your actions will impact you, your family and others down the road, before acting and make the necessary adjustments. The Holy Ghost can provide the inspiration and guidance we need to think through our actions. We just need to listen to Him at the moment when we need to act and remind ourselves that our future will be better if we listen to the Holy Ghost rather than ourselves. We have to think of ourselves as a part of God’s much bigger and larger picture, and act to the best of our abilities and with the guidance of the Holy Ghost as a positive aspect of that larger picture.
In today’s Epistle, St. Paul says as Jesus Christ died and rose again, so too should we die to our sins and rise again in a better state. He uses this metaphor to describe both our life here on earth, renewed through the death of the old man to the new, and to describe our life in Heaven from here on Earth. When we die here on Earth, we will be resurrected in heaven with our Lord, free from our mortal and corruptible body, to our new and immortal state.
And as he says, as death has no dominion over Jesus Christ, so too shall it have no more dominion over us. For by His death and resurrection, He has paid the wages for our sin, which as St. Paul says in Romans is death. His death has paid for our sins, so we might be accounted as perfect to get into heaven. We cannot be worthy on our own to get into heaven, but for the Grace of God, sending his Son Jesus to die for our sins, we will be able to get into heaven. This is the greatest miracle of our Lord Jesus Christ. He accounts us imperfect creatures as perfect, so we can get into heaven.
The resurrection truly is the greatest miracle Jesus performed. Because before He came and died for our sins, we could not get into heaven on our own and in fact still cannot. It is by God’s Grace, that He sent His only begotten son, that we should not perish, but have everlasting life. This is truly an amazing miracle, and I find myself still amazed every time I think of it. How we poor sinful creatures who could not make it to heaven on our own, have had our wages of sin paid by our Lord’s death upon the Cross.
As imperfect creatures, immortal or not, we make mistakes. One to avoid is being “mad” at one’s fellow creatures, particularly family and friends. We pick the most illogical reasons to be mad, the word chosen rather than angry. Looked at logically, as God does, we need to solve the issue, “kiss and make up”, and do it before the sun sets on our anger. Never part in anger. One of you may not come back. We must put aside our often foolish and angry thoughts and not act upon them, but rather have Christly thoughts and act upon those. Remember that before you are “angry” at a friend, relative, acquaintance, or stranger. We must not let anger and other irrational emotions such as fear get the best of us; but rather think calmly and figure out the best way to handle whatever situation we are in without losing control of our emotions. How do we do this? The clear solution is to pray to God and ask for His Help in bridling our tongue and have it be a reasonable tool rather than a tool of anger and deceit! And to also remember this every time we are in a moment of heated emotion.
When Jesus gave His Life for us, He did it knowing we would fail to follow in perfection, but fully aware some would follow to the best of their ability. We must get back up after we make our mistakes and continue on trying the best we can to follow Him. That is all He asks, do your best. Even Saint Paul had trouble following our Lord, but he kept trying and doing his real best not to make the same mistake again. Doing your best is not the same as saying you are doing your best.
There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.
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