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Church of the Faithful Centurion
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
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 hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life …
To understand the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice, it is critical to understand He is the only begotten Son (John 3:16) of God. He is also referred to in places as The Word, the means by which God is given to the world. But, more than that, 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3) Though the corrupted versions of the Bible (NIV, NKJV, RSV, etc) have attempted to erase His Divine Status and the role He plays in our salvation, that does not change the reality of Who He is. He is in simplest terms, the great I AM. He was the one who brought light into this World. He has been there since before the beginning of time, before the beginning of what we know as our Universe. He created this world, it is by rights His. It is not the true possession of the Prince of this World, otherwise known as Satan. When Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, he offered Christ something that was not his to give away. This shows how he truly does not understand God or Christ. Christ is the one who created this world and truly is the rightful owner of it and not Satan. God values us so highly that He sent His only begotten son that all who believe on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This brings us to Peter’s point in the Epistle, Christ serves as a perfect example for the conduct of our lives. There again the Epistle and the Collect tie together amazingly well. Jesus conducted His ministry as an example for us to follow in our times of trial and tribulation, that we might see His light in our darkest moments. His Ministry acts as the pattern we should look to emulate in our trials and tribulations here on Earth. His Ministry was based upon action. So too should we in our earthly attempt to follow Him center our words on action. As our friend KT pointed out recently, our actions show who we truly are and what we truly believe. This also connects with the Bible verse from Matthew (6:21) that says “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” If we treasure and believe upon Him, our actions will show that we do indeed believe and value Him highly.
If we do wrong actions and suffer for it, there is little honor; for we were wrong. But, if we do right actions, that is follow God’s Will, and suffer for it, there is in fact glory, laud and honor there. Jesus went to His death on the Cross that we might be accounted as perfect at our final accounting rather than being held accountable for our failures. He who is, was and always will be perfect suffered great pain that we might live life eternal. If He did that for us, should we not follow that example and follow His Direction, counting the cost only after the work is done? We can be assured that no matter how bad our sufferings and tribulations here are on Earth, Jesus had it far worse. Not only did He die a painful death, but then He had to descend into Hell and fight the Devil. I think we have it better than He did as far as suffering goes. Just something to think about next time we think our sufferings are so awful.
We are, after all, much like sheep, following the lead of those around us, somewhat like lemmings, it seems. We have great need of a shepherd to lead us back from the edge of The Pit and to life, back to those verdant pastures and still waters. This Shepherd never will fail to lead us back to the pastures, we just have to pick up the guidance from the Holy Ghost and follow the path He has set for us.
As Peter referred to Jesus as a shepherd, so does John. There is a reason for this constant reference to Jesus as the Good Shepherd; He is. He leads us to green pastures and to beside the still waters. He restores and comforts our souls and drives the enemy from out of our souls and minds, if we let Him. This is a universal theme throughout the various Epistles of Paul, Peter and James. In order for us to have spiritual growth, we need to let Him into our hearts. He will lead us towards the path to Heaven, we just have to make the conscious decision to follow His Directions and etch them into our hearts.
In order to follow His Directions, we have to let go of our pride, vanity and arrogance and accept His Guidance and teachings of humbleness and humility into our hearts. We have to realize we cannot do this on our own; we cannot save ourselves and we need God’s influence in our lives. We have to allow the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts and once He is in accept His Direction and Guidance and then act upon that guidance. It is not good enough just to say we believe, we need to actually believe. Actually, believing means if we truly believe on Him, we must act in a manner consistent with Scripture.
Acting is the key word here, not just talking about it, but acting. It isn’t good enough just to read Scriptures and go on our merry way and act like we did before we read them. We have to apply the key principles of Scripture in our lives and shine the light of Christ to those around us.
The Gospel notes the difference of ownership. Our true owner will, and I might add, has, given His Life so we might be protected from the ravening wolves of this world, the Prince of this World. We are cautioned to 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:(1 Peter 5:8) But, sobriety only gets you so far; sheep do poorly against wolves and lions. We need one who is experienced in protecting our souls against the spiritual wolves and lions of this world. Jesus is that experienced protector we need. Make no mistake, we need the help of that Good Shepherd. That Good Shepherd calls to each of us, we need the Holy Ghost in our hearts to hear the call. Regardless of what you have been told by those of this world, there is only One God, One Lord, One Savior. Thus, there is only One Flock; there are many ways to follow Scripture, but they must all have the same general plan. That is the reason for the creeds, the reason we tell all to compare what is preached against what is in Scripture. We need to daily work towards doing a better job of following God’s Will.
We need help, He provides it, we need to accept it.
The key is action, in this case our action. We need to actually accept the offered help; like the life ring thrown to a drowning person, we must grab God’s proffered help, else we profit nothing.