Rev Jack's sermon can be viewed on video RIGHT HERE!
The Third Sunday after The Epiphany.
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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:
… mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us …
In the Collect, we are asking God to set aside our failures and protect and aid us in all we do with His strong hand. God is perfect, thus so is His counsel. When we acknowledge our imperfection and ask Him for help, we should look to the written record of His Son, our Savior; the ultimate example of perfection and we should be doing do our best to follow Him, by being honest, hard working, peaceful and helpful. When we do this, we will prosper; not only in this world, but in our hearts. And not only our hearts, but doing these things will make things better for those around us, too. When we pray for His Help, we need to listen for the answer, then act on it, not ignore it because it is not the answer we wanted. This is a very common theme throughout the collects and by extension, the Bible. As we have always the same problems, we have the same need, which is to turn to God for help!
In the Epistle, Paul counsels us to not repay our fellow men’s evil with evil but to do right as much as possible in a given circumstances. He also says that God will reap vengeance on evildoers and it is not for us to deal vengeance out. He also says we need to be honest and forthright in all our dealings as is befitting our children of God status. He points out if we give kindness and honesty even to those who we do not like or get along with, that will be truly more satisfying for us then any kind of imperfect revenge or sabotage we can come up with. It will in the end be on their own heads for refusing our hospitality and kindly actions.
Which brings us to the next point, why are we always emphasizing action? There is a simple reason for this. In the space of time where we exist, where we are, is Today. Where God’s finger touches the line of time. Not tomorrow nor the past, but today. We can’t go back in the past or go forward to the future and act there, our actions have to be done in the present. Actions are how we live out our faith. That is why worrying does nothing productive. We should focus on what we can do in the present, rather in the past we cannot change nor the future which is unknown. Acting in the present is far more productive than worrying about places we cannot act in like the past or unknown like the future.
Our God is a God of Action. No less is His Son one of action. All throughout the Bible, you find Jesus doing things, not just talking about them. His messages all convey action. Jesus did not just talk nice words, he backed them up with action. This is why we emphasize action. To truly follow Christ requires us to be like Him within the best our abilities and with the Help of the Holy Ghost, perform actions. To be like Christ, we must back our stated belief with actions that confirm that belief, following His Word. It is a tough task and we may never get there fully, but we’ll never get there if we don’t at least do our best and not just say it.
The Gospel provides a great example of how our God is a God of Action. In the Gospel we see Jesus performing His first documented earthly miracle, turning water into wine at Cana. He was at first apparently reluctant to perform it, telling his earthly mother that it was not the right time for Him to perform miracles. Mary chose to ignore this and instead placed great faith in her son by instructing the servants, “Whatsoever he saith to you do it.”
She had great faith in Him in that He would perform a miraculous action. Mary truly had the faith Jesus talked about which could “move mountains.” When He referred to this, He was not talking about literally moving mountains, but obstacles which get in our way in life. That is the faith we need to have in Him and God. We need to have faith that He will help us overcome those mountainous obstacles, we just have to let him into our hearts.
His actions created a wine so good, it caused the governor to remark they usually set out the best wine first, then when the partygoers get more drunk they bring out the worst wine. But the wine Jesus created was so good, he said in effect, “You have saved the best for last.”
The whole point behind the Gospel is that Jesus, and God, is a person of action not just diction. Jesus could have chosen not to do anything or tell the servants anything. But He chose to honor His mother’s request and perform a miracle that set off His earthly ministry. When faced with the opportunity to act, He always acted. This was the first of those times when He was faced with a decision point. You will note in all of his miracles He chose to act.
This shows that if we are to become like Christ, we are also to be men and women of action and not just diction. There are too many in this world who to paraphrase President Trumps’ inaugural address “They talk the good talk and sit around on their hands and do nothing.” It is all too easy to say the right words at the right time; however, it is harder to perform the right actions at the right time.
Actions truly show our character more than words ever could. How should we act to show the best of our character? To the extent you are able, attempt to do good to all. Always do the right thing when you are faced with a choice. Sometimes that choice is harder than others to be made, but it must be made all the same. It is possible if we have the Holy Ghost in our hearts to do the right thing. We are not Christ, but if we do our best emulate His earthly actions, we do well. If you treat your enemies with respect and kindness, you oft make them your friends. Like many other things Jesus taught, it is easy to say and hard to do.
Like Jesus at the well, we must remember that our purpose is to help bring people to salvation. We are not called to any action that would push people always from salvation, but rather to lead them by example towards that salvation. We are called to be like Christ as much as possible. So, with that in mind, we must strive to influence the people around us for good. A good reason to think before you open your mouth. Think is what I am about to say going to lead this person to or from Christ. If it will lead them away, think of how you can phrase it so it will lead them to Christ. Any step you take today may have future consequence. Your witness, your testimony, your actions can bring people to the point they accept the Holy Spirit or not. Your interface may only be one small step; but do your best to make it a step towards God, not away. Therefore, let us think about our actions and the possible consequences they could have for people turning to or away from Him.
Error is error, wrong is not right. But, a person’s final destination is up to God, not us. Fortunate for each of us, it should be considered. During the journey of life through the time space continuum, we need to do our best to keep ourselves and those around us moving towards God, not away from Him. The direction is always clear, sometimes we just do not want to read the signs. That is why we need the Holy Ghost’s help to read those signs and keep on moving in the consistent direction towards heaven.
If we understand we are less than perfect, actually far less than imperfect, we have a good start. We know we need God in our lives to give us direction. We need His guidance to direct our ACTION.
The common theme through the Collect, Epistle and Gospel is that if we have hope and trust in God, we must dread naught, and carry on, empowered through our daily lives here on Earth until we are called to our heavenly home. These are actions we must take not mere thoughts or words, actual actions!
Read the Bible, find out what He wants you to do, then Do It. What can you do today to carry out His Will? There are a multitude of things you can DO to carry out His Will, but the question is, “Will you?”
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
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