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Sunday, September 17, 2017
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
Today we talk consider The Law and how it failed to solve the problems of the people it was designed to help and think about how getting around technicalities is different than doing what is right.
Consider the words of the Collect, “…give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command …”
The Collects often are repetitive, in that we ask the same thing, week after week in differing ways. Why is that? Sadly, we have the same needs and the same failings week after week. We are WEAK, we need God’s STRENGTH. Today, we ask Him to help us, through the Holy Ghost, to increase our faith, to help us love what He wants us to do, to make His Wishes our wishes. To make us want to follow Him that we might gain the prize which He has promised us. That prize is eternal life which begins when we accept it, not when we die. A benefit of that eternal life is that we live our lives here in far greater happiness than we would otherwise. We have peace of mind, as well as a better physical life. If we can but just put our hearts in His Heart. We have to really do our best to do this, as it is not an easy task. Luckily for us, we have the Holy Ghost who can help us.
If we are to follow Him we need that increase of faith, hope and love (charity is but another word for love) in order to be able to stay on the course that God has charted for us. By ourselves we cannot stay on course and would deviate to 180 degrees opposite from where God wants us to be. So that is why we are praying for that increase of faith, hope and love, so we can maintain course guidance. Of course, in order to have those, we need to listen to what He says and act upon it. Not just listen to what He says then go off and do what we want to do. This requires change on our part, modification of our behavior to follow Him. It requires actual action.
We will improve in all aspects of our life if we truly do our best to follow Him. They key phrase is “do our best” and not just say that we are doing our best. There is a difference, one is heartfelt and true and the other is just lip service. So, let us truly do our best to follow Him. We will make mistakes, of course; but we always have to remember to return to Him and correct our course accordingly. And if we remember the benefits of the prize of following Him, it will be easier for us to follow the path, maybe not much easier, but easier enough to keep our eyes on the prize. We often forget about the Holy Ghost, that Third God Guy. Without Him in our hearts, we are lost. With Him, we, like John Newton, are found. He is a critical part of our journey towards heaven. He will help guide us along the narrow uphill trail to heaven. We will have that vision He gives to us in our lives and we will be able to see the way God wants us to travel.
It will be a very clear vision not blurry and distorted like the way of the World. It will define and light up the path that we are to follow, and then all that will be left is for us to actually move upon that path, closer to Him. It won’t be an easy and quick path, but it will be a sure path nevertheless.
That brings us right in to Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and us! We need to walk in God’s Word and in His Spirit. We need to put aside the things of this world which are not in accord with the Way of God. All of those things that He lists are not how the Sons and Daughters of God should act. It is a list of behaviors and attitudes that are not congruent with being a true Christian. They are things we should be actively working on avoiding. These things are extremely detrimental to our spiritual and physical health. If we are of God, then we will act of God, only then will we be of God.
What is important is not what you were born to, for we were all born to death. A king is born; a king dies. We are born into this world, our body will die in this world. Yet through the grace of the King, we live on. There is much conflict in us, look at all those “fun” things Paul lists in the Epistle. Those “fun” things do not bring happiness, they really just bring us closer to death. We all struggle with fun and happiness, two words that often do not mean the same thing. It is a concept people easily confuse. However there really is a simple difference. Fun is a fleeting, temporary state and happiness will last a lifetime. And Eternal Life is forever. People all to easily get these concepts mixed up without thinking of this simple difference. But it is a difference nevertheless. It is similar to the need and want issue, two other words easily mixed up.
Yet, God has the answer for us. He sent His Son to bring it to us. Who will listen?
The only people who listen are those who are in need, hurt, pain and despair. Often it is because they or one of their loved ones are ill or injured, perhaps near death. Perhaps they are unemployed or undergoing some family upheaval. Their situation is less than perfect. They need help and they know it. In their own mind, they are the Samaritans of this world. It was no accident Jesus oft cast Samaritans as the stars of his parables and stories. It is also no accident Jesus parables and stories center on actions, not words, thoughts and meditations. Actions are who you are. Actions show the world who you follow God or Mammon. You cannot truly be a believer if you don’t act for Him. Without action, there is nothing. The key driving principle behind his parables are actions for Him, are those of goodness, not of evil. Those who believe on me keep my commandments.
Yet, those who turn to God in “need” are no different than each of us. To quote Paul, “None are perfect, all fall short.” We, each and every one of us, need God’s help. Perhaps some need it more, none need it less.
When Luke tells us of Jesus and the ten lepers whom He heals and only one expresses thanks, do you think he is only telling of lepers?
In a sense are we not all lepers, outcasts with unhealable conditions? In our case our unhealable condition is our tendency to sin and turn astray. We ourselves cannot heal ourselves and nobody else on this Earth can. We are outcasts of this world so to speak, we only have God and our friends in Christ to help us. The world cannot help us, but those in Christ and God can. We have an incurable condition of sin, but with God’s help, it can be healed, though we cannot heal it on our own. We cannot be healed by this world, yet there is One who can heal us and will if only we appeal to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” We pray to God in His Name every day, He listens every day.
Through our Lord, God is there for each of us if we will accept His help. When He gives that help, how do we react? Frankly most of us just think it our due. We oft fail to give thanks for all that He gives us.
When we get an answer we don’t expect, do we thank Him? What if we get an answer? Do we thank Him?
Like the lepers only one in ten will show thanks for the mercy and help given them. Rarely do people give thanks for large efforts done to help them. We must endeavor to be grateful for Him and for all of those who strive hard to help us out in our times of need. In the case of the lepers, it was the Samaritan, showing that fancy dress and rules are not as important as doing what is right and being grateful for what we are given.
Are you part of that 10 percent?
Remember, it is Please and Thank You that are the magic words, not Please and I don’t have time for you.
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.
 Samaritan - Of or pertaining to Samaria, in Palestine. -- n. A native or inhabitant of Samaria; also, the language of Samaria. [1913 Webster]
Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism. They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation. The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews.
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