Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sexagesima Sunday

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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:

…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 Directions. 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 need to recognize God has the power to help us overcome adversity. Of our own volition we can sometimes overcome physical adversity, but never that of spiritual. With God’s help we can overcome both. We need to internalize this into our hearts, so our first automatic reaction is to come to Him for help whenever we encounter both spiritual and physical dangers. He truly is the only one that can help us.

Everything good that we do does not originate from our own Hearts, but from the goodness of God via the Holy Spirit who is residing within us. If we do not have the Holy Spirit within us, it will not be possible for us to do those good works for Him.

Paul tells the Corinthians that whatever they have suffered there compares nothing to what He has suffered for Christ in all of his labourings, watchings and fastings. Yet this is not his main point, which is that in all of these sufferings he always drew on the power of the Holy Spirit and used the sufferings for God’s glory and not for his. He does not mean to tell them of all that he has suffered as bragging, however, he is meaning to say that he got through these hard times with God’s help and also to bring glory and point the way to God and His Son Jesus Christ.  

From his beginnings as the chief persecutor of Christ’s followers to now as one of the top apostles of Christ, Paul tells us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example. Paul wanted to show us how God’s Grace and mercy changed His life and got Him through some pretty awful times. Paul pointed out that if you trust in God and follow His Instructions, you too can get through the most awful of times as well.  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. In order for a garden to thrive, you need to consistently pull the weeds from the garden, otherwise the weeds will choke and kill the good plants. That is why we must always be wary of the world’s influence on the church and work to weed out that influence, so it does not choke the Biblical beliefs that have been believed for over two millennia by Christians.  In order to do this, we need to work hand in hand with our fellow believers to weed out any worldly influence or trouble within the church. 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. We need to understand the implications of following our self directed action, which if we follow, 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. Understanding the difference between the two will help you prepare yourself for a happier physical and spiritual life. 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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