Sunday, January 19, 2020
Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion, Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and readings for this week. Consider these words from the Collect:
… God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life …
In the Collect, first we acknowledge God’s place in the universe, that is He is the ultimate ruler of all things. Thus, the civil authorities of each country, state, county and locality govern with His Authority, so long as they do His Will, whether they be Christian or not. It is His Authority that is the source their powers and not their own determination. They do not have the power to grant themselves the power that God grants them. And also this power that God gives is not to be abused for self profit or their own means, but to better the country and the people within it. Our Constitution, which serves as the skeleton or foundation of all our laws gets its authority from the Declaration of Independence. Where, pray tell, does the Declaration of Independence get its authority? From our Creator. Acknowledged right there in plain English. It needs no explanation, merely a grade school reading ability! We go on to ask God to listen to us and give us His peace in our hearts. God is perfect. His hearing is perfect. It is not His hearing that is in need of help; it is ours. He hears us clearly when we pray; God always hears us when we call Him. What we learn from this Collect is that when we pray to Him, we need to listen to Him. We need to establish two-way communication. In order to act upon His Word, we need to first listen to what He tells us and understand what He is telling us. It is our hearing which is need of help, not His and the help we need can only come from Him! The question is not, Does God hear our supplications? Rather the question is, Do we hear His answer and abide by it? Do we listen when His answer is not what we want, but what we need? He always answers, but do we always listen? We need to always be listening when He responds back and then act upon what He responds with.
To truly follow Him, we need to truly listen and take His Guidance to heart. Without following His Guidance we cannot truly say that we are His Followers. We need to listen to His Guidance and then act upon it. The key word being ACT. We need His Guidance to transform ourselves from evil to good.. Without His Guidance, we cannot hope to be transformed to be good to serve Him. His Guidance comes in the form of the Holy Ghost. Without His Guidance, we cannot ever hope to be good and righteous. To do that, we must open our hearts and minds; and let Him in. He will not force His way in. It takes action on our part to let Him in. If we open our hearts and minds, then we will hear Him. Will we let him in to our hearts for this to happen? It has to start with us letting Him in, and then we will hear His answer loud and clear. That is why the Holy Ghost is here, to help us and guide us upon the rocky narrow and uphill path towards heaven. He is there, always there, we merely need to let Him in! Without Him, Scripture is so much foolishness, with His Insight, it is perfectly clear.
In the Epistle Paul reminds us that each of us have of individual talents that are important help the Church further its cause. And that it is equally important that we all work together. To work together in the church, each of us need to utilize our unique talents according to the needs of the church, not somebody else’s talents, but their talents. Each and every one of us has a talent of some sort, be it musical, talking (being good with communication), sweeping, taking out the trash, there is no end to the need. Almost anything else can be used for His Glory, to further His Work, His Goals, is a talent. Each and everyone has a unique talent and or gift that can be used to further His Will on Earth. Sometimes, we fail to remember for the team to be successful, each person needs to do the job they do best to the best of their ability; not necessarily the one they like best the way they want to do it at the pace they enjoy. In the end, knowing you that did your best is what really counts, not just getting recognition from others, but the satisfaction in your heart of knowing that with God’s Help you accomplished a large task, is one of the best feelings in the world. This feeling can exist whether you did a great job working at church or in the office. The same principle applies throughout life. That the satisfaction of a job well done for God be it in the office or work is more gratifying than any compliments or money. It does not matter to God who gets the credit, what matters to Him is we get the job done and to do it right!
On the other hand we should not look for praise for our own work (though we may appreciate it, we should not dwell on it too long, lest we have to start shopping for size fourteen hats for our swollen heads!) However, we should look for reasons to praise and encourage others. This is a way we can assist other Christians in their development and help them along the narrow uphill trail. We need to recognize hard work, sacrifice, thoughtfulness and talent in others, remark on it and praise the use thereof! That which is rewarded most is that which grows. And this is how we can encourage our fellow Christians and our other friends to grow and learn, by the encouragement. This encouragement will help sprout the seed for more of the good work around us to flourish.
Look at John the Baptist, out in the wilderness; not in the fancy building, the gold-plated temple, but out where he could prepare straight the way for the Lord. He was out where the people were, he came to them, rather than wait for them to come to him in a fancy building. He was on a mission to pave the way for Jesus to come and preach and ultimately for His Death and Resurrection. Smoothing the path so to speak, making ready the hearts and souls of the people for the coming of the Lord. He did not point at himself, rather he pointed the way towards God incarnate!
By the way, how necessary is praise to miserable human beings? God Himself, looking on His Son’s baptism remarked for all to hear, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
How oft do we praise the actions of others? Too often we are quick to criticize the failings of others and over analyze their failings. Sometimes when we think of people we know, all we can think of is their failings and forget everyone has their good parts as well, for each of us has been created by God. It is in our nature, part of our human nature, our free will condition that we must fight against with His help. We must understand while it is valuable to know when we fall short, people strive the hardest for praise of those whose opinion they value.
When you hear those words, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, remember to use them yourself. Lead others to God, don’t just point the way.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
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