Sunday, May 19, 2019
Fourth Sunday after Easter
Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and Scriptural readings for this week.
We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, through Rogation Sunday. This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found…
The very first phrase is critical to understanding our relationship with the world. We want to follow our own hearts, that is theunruly wills and affections of sinful men, and they will lead us down the path to Donkey Island and eventually the pit. Our natural will and affection is towards sinful things and not those of God. We do not have naturally peaceful and loving wills and affections; rather those of of violence and evil doing. It has been that way ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God’s commandments to us are to re-shape our affections from things of mammon, to things of eternity. This is what the collect is talking about when it says “who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men”. Only God can help us to re-shape those sinful wills and affections. It requires tweaking our perspective on what is best for us to match with what God knows is the best for us. He knows us far better than we do, and knows what is actually best for us. We have one hope; that we will listen to the instruction God freely offers us. If we will just do what He asks we will find true joy.
We have to internalize His commands into our hearts through listening and then through repetition, action. This is the only way we can follow His Commandments and show the World we follow Him. It is not enough to hear the Word only, we need to live the Word. Showing others that we are dedicated to following the Lord, and not just saying that we are following the Lord is how we can truly follow Him. For all of the above to happen we have to let God into our hearts, souls, minds and bodies and let His Directions carry us through life. We have to allow room in our soul and hearts for the Holy Spirit to operate and give us that direction. We have to overcome our resistance to letting Him in, so that we can let Him in. Because we cannot change ourselves; we need God’s help, also the Holy Spirit’s help, in changing ourselves. We have to do a hard boot to use computer speak and restart our lives in a new direction, 180 degrees opposite from our previous, more sinful lives.
Our life will be better when we follow His directions and if we will allow God to rule us and desire His help, we will be able to attain the state of happiness we will then deserve. He knows what is right and what is wrong for us. He does not want us to lead so called puritanical lives with no fun allowed whatsoever, but we must have fun the right way and not the wrong way. The right way can lead to a lifetime of happiness, whereas the wrong way leads to a life time of misery. Many people think that God forbids things for us, because He does not want us to have fun. Nothing can be further from the truth. He forbids things harmful for our spiritual well being, and allows us to have clean spiritual, joyous things in our life to develop our spiritual well being. Those people confuse the things that are harmful for our spiritual well being with fun and think that the things that are actually helpful for our spiritual well being are not fun. When it is completely not the case. The Holy Spirit will help us to truly see what is harmful for us and what is not harmful for us.
We need God’s help (this is one of the places the Holy Ghost comes in) to be able to want for ourselves that which He Wants for us. If we can desire what He Wants, our ability to follow His Instructions will be much enhanced. And not only will they be much enhanced, but the more we follow His Instructions, the easier it will be for us to continue on that straight and narrow path towards heaven.
We are God’s creatures, first among all His Creation with all the privileges (which we like) and all the responsibility (which we are not so keen on) which come with that status. All good comes from God, who is always with us; always the same; a true bearing in world in a constant state of flux. While the world may change, the Word will never change, no matter what happens in the world today. His Word is refreshing constant, in this world where things are changing every few years it seems, but His Word will never change. Its meaning never changes, as God never changes. As God is truth, which by its nature cannot change, so should we never change in our beliefs towards Him. It is refreshing to have Him in our lives as a constant we can always cling to when we get in trouble. Whenever it is a simple problem, such as a computer program malfunctioning, or a complex problem, we can turn to Him in our day of trial and find ourselves comforted. We need to listen to not only Him, but those around us, think before we speak, think more before we act in haste. We must put ourselves to good and separate ourselves from evil and superfluity of naughtiness so we can hear His Word, which will save our souls.
So, how can we hear?
When Jesus got ready to leave this world for His, He told the disciples that He would send them the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to keep them in Him and to help them understand what they had so far been unable to truly grasp. Unless we allow the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts, we will never understand that which is from God. This is an important concept with messages that are not from God being bombarded across the world through principalities and powers of this world. Only the Holy Ghost can help us remain grounded within the truth. We need the Holy Ghost to enter into us that we might be able to hear the Word of God, and more important than just hearing the Word, we need the Holy Ghost to be able to act upon the Word. We must allow the Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts and souls so we can understand what God has for us. It is that simple. Open your heart, pray for God to send Him into that open heart.
For with the Holy Ghost’s help, you can hear, understand and act on The Word.
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