Rev Jack's sermon can be seen on video RIGHT HERE!
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:
…grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same…
As imperfect creatures with free will, we will never figure out what we should be doing, let alone do it, on our own. We are confused beings who get into trouble left to our own devices. Without an external source of help, we will never be able to follow God on our own. God sent the Holy Ghost that we might listen to Him and understand. He will give us the ability to figure out and know what and how we are to do the things we need to do here on Earth for Him.
We need to not just understand The Word spoken to us through Jesus and the Scriptures, but to understand what we should do; hence the prayer to figure out what we need to do, then give us the power or strength to do what we are supposed to do. The Holy Spirit will give us the guidance we need to perform actions for Him. We just have to open our hearts and be ready to listen and act upon His Guidance.
To live the Word requires action and self-improvement each and every day of our lives. This is a constant struggle that will be continuous for the rest of our earthly lives. We need to ask ourselves at the end of each day, what did I do to act for God and what I did right today and what did I not do right? And figure out with the help of the Holy Ghost how to correct our wrongs and go on to the next day and do our best to do better. There will be days that are harder than others but if we lean on God and the Holy Spirit he can help us get through the horrible days too. Also even in the great and wondaful days we should not neglect to thank Him for His Guidance and Wisdom that has helped us to improve our lives to have these great days.
Christianity is all about action and self-improvement. Part of the self-improvement is have to recognizing the signs we are in trouble and immediately consult Him and His Word and figure out an action plan according to the principles in Scripture. This is a continuous process that will occur for the rest of our earthly lives. I would say that self improvement and action are the chief mechanisms of the Christian Faith. Jesus set the ultimate example for us in action, by His Death and Resurrection. His Ministry revolved around action and helping others. We must do the best to do likewise and act. It is by our actions that our faith in Him is shown to others. I would say that faith without action is not a true faith at all but a false one. We must avoid this by doing actions for Him. The Holy Spirit will help us in this, we just have to listen and then act upon His Guidance.
We are asking God to help us know what we should do and then help us to do it right. Seems pretty simple, but is the root of almost all our problems. It is harder to do what is right than what seems easy to us at the time. First, even if we ask God what He wants us to do, “There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.” Then, if we hear what He wants us to do, and hear it correctly, we often find it “too hard.” Do you recall this quote from GK Chesterton:
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
So, once we find out what God wants, we often try to rationalize our way around it. Note the word try. There is no good way to rationalize our way around what God wants in the end. It is impossible to rationally get around the concepts found in the Summary of the Law. Think about the 613 Mosaic laws and the Pharisees who made a good living telling people how to comply with them to the letter and still do just what they wanted to do. So, then, even if we find out what God wants and decide to actually do it instead of avoid it, we are faced with the often huge problem of where do we get the strength to accomplish this task? The answer is circular, from God. He never asks us to do anything we cannot do good enough for Him if we rely on Him. Never. End of that discussion.
What we need to do next is we need to turn ourselves outward. Not be self-centered, but we must think of God and our fellow Christians. In order to accomplish the Great Commission, we have to work with our other fellow Christians as a team. Notice there is no I in team. We have to let go of our egos and embrace the Holy Spirit as we work with our fellow Christians to follow His Teachings and spread His Word through ought the globe.
“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.”
Paul tells us not to concentrate on our status, position or grandeur, but to see what we can do to help. Just like our body would not function if all parts were brains, neither will Christ’s Team function if everyone is concerned about their position.
When we look at the Gospel today, aside from the historical function telling us that Jesus was in the temple bringing the light of the gospel to the rabbis, there are other lessons. We do not want to micromanage your life, but it is a good idea keep your friends and family informed of what you are doing and where you are going. Jesus’ earthly parents risked life and limb going back up the road to Jerusalem at night. But, that was their duty as parents. A duty must be done, no matter the cost. The lesson here is to keep your family and friends well informed of what you are doing, rather than going off on your own, figuring you can handle it.
Duty means to do what you are supposed to do, then count the cost. There is no sense of duty if you are merely doing what is easiest for you at the time. While doing your duty will in the end be the right thing, thus the easiest thing, it may not seem so at the time. Doing one’s duty can result in one’s temporal death, the end of their time here on earth. Not an easy way on the surface. But, recall that what seems like that easy downhill path leads to The Pit, it does not lead to the summit. Our country is where it is today because of those who preceded us, those who did their duty. It will not keep going up if, as a country, we stroll down that wide smooth downhill boulevard. We must struggle to stay on the narrow path, which leads to the summit.
Look back at those who stepped forward when the country called, Concord, Veracruz, Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Chateau Thierry, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Peleliu, Bastogne, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Chosin Reservoir, Ia Drang Valley, Khe Sanh, Hanoi, Laos, Cambodia, Basra, Kabul, Bagdad and countless unfamiliar and unpronounceable names in Southwest Asia. In them, you find a unifying theme of Duty, doing what you have to do, no matter what it takes, then count the cost. Those who fought for our country did it out of duty to their country and God and to protect their family. We must emulate their purpose and serve God dutifully. Christ is the ultimate example of this, the only begotten Son of God, yet doing His duty to die for us, which is what God needed Him to do, to save us from eternal hellfire. So, it was His Duty and He did it with honor.
Through duty, we too might have a noble death and welcoming in heaven. We must do our duty to God, to Honor, to Country and Family. Sometimes we will fall short, for we are imperfect creatures with that darn free will. Thus, at times we choose the wrong path or our strength falls short or we just cannot do what is needed of us. Then, we need to reset and restart towards the goal God has set for us.
But, back to the Gospel and the parents’ arrival at the temple, where lo, they found him. He was among the learned men “both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” His parents were amazed and confounded. He asked them why they worried and why they did not understand that he was about his Father’s business. It is noteworthy to see Jesus at twelve was able to “hold his own” with the learned scholars of Judah. He was able to out reason those who lived to dissect the Law. “A little child shall lead them,” (Isaiah 11:1-10)
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.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God