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Sunday, July 26, 2015
Eighth Sunday after Trinity
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God who … ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; … to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us …
We must understand in our hearts that God does indeed “ordereth all things” here as well as in heaven. Once we understand that, then we can ask Him to keep us away from those things hurtful to us and incline our hearts towards those things that are good for us. This is one of the many things for which we need the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in our hearts. Without His Help, we cannot recognize the help we need. We tend to think of ourselves as perfectable by our own work, without the need to depend on others (Him). The problem is, it does not work. And yet, we cannot seem to figure this out on our own. To try what clearly does not work over and over again, is the very definition of insanity. On the other hand, if we look to God for help, for guidance, for direction, for course correction, for strength, for structure, for the ability to persevere, there is nothing that must be done that cannot be done. In other words, on our own we cannot do anything that works, but with God’s help, we can do things that work! But it is not because of us, that we can do things that work, but because God is acting within us with the help of the Holy Ghost. He can help us put aside our fears, worries, concerns and do what we need to do. It may not necessarily be what we want to do, but in the end, it is better than anything we could want to do. God asks only that we do our very best. By the way, do not confuse saying you are doing your best with actually doing it. There is a difference between words and actions!
The difference lies in what our actions convey. Do our actions convey faith or disbelief? If we are true followers of Christ, then our actions will convey faith. If we are not of Christ, our actions will convey unbelief. I know what I want my actions to convey, do you? Our faith means nothing, if it is not evident in our actions. We would then not have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ within us, who saves us. It is not our faith that saves us, but Him who rose and died for our sins. He cannot be truly within us unless we ask for Him to come in and help guide our actions. His faith is what saves, not ours. We cannot buy our way into heaven, nor any other way we can think of will get us into heaven, but the way that God provided for us, will get us into heaven, that of His Son Jesus Christ, who was sent to die for our sins that we would have eternal life, to all that believe upon His name. BELIEVE, is the key word. To truly BELIEVE, you must act in a Christly manner, believe that He died for our sins, and to live out the faith as preached by Him. If you do not believe any one of the tenants of the Nicene Creed, then you cannot be considered a Christian, for all of the elements necessary to be a Christian are consolidated into the Creed. It summarizes the story of the Gospel into a Creed that we acknowledge and believe.
There are 66 books in the Bible, of those 27 are in the New Testament, of those Saint Paul wrote 13, almost half! More than anyone. Paul gives much of the guidance and direction we call The Word of God. Yet, his message is very simple. People claim to find it hard to grasp, which mostly means they don’t want to hear it. If they truly did want to hear it, they would not offer up those excuses! Today, Paul tells us, much like last week, that if we are of this world, we die of this world. Pretty simple message, right? Yet if we will accept our adoption by God, we will be entitled to call Him Abba, or Daddy. We have been emancipated from the bondage of sin and are now freemen under the promise of eternal life. We are no more beholden to sin, no more under the eternal debt of sin, but we have been freed from that terrible master of death, to the absolutely perfect master in God. He truly is the most perfect master for us, better than we could be of ourselves. For that was why we were in the bondage of the sin prior to the coming of Christ. We humans (Gentiles and Jews) could not overcome that most terrible and natural malady of sin. But God came up with the perfect way, the One Way, His Son Jesus Christ to die for us that we might gain a bridge between this earth and life eternal.
For, if we are His children, then we gain His Birthright and all that results from that status. Again, this is simple, but following as His Children can be a fairly difficult task, if we try to do things without His guidance. Actually, without His Guidance, we cannot do anything that is great or worthy. But with His Guidance, we can do all things! While we may have some cause for suffering here on earth, the resultant glory will all be well worth it. The problem with this is that while we are all willing to suffer (just not today) we are so often not willing to put off what we want to do now for what God wants us to do. We justify doing what we want, while ignoring what God clearly told us He Wants. We look for people who claim authority who will tell us what we want to hear. Once again, it is what we want, not what He Wants. What He wants will ultimately result in our salvation, what we want will ultimately result in our eternal damnation. I know which way I want to go, do you?
That leads right in to the point Jesus said in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew when He Tells us to take great care in who we choose to follow. There are many today who seem to say the right things, but do the other. This duplicitous nature is not becoming of those who would be ministers of God. Therefore those men cannot be true ministers of God, but must be false prophets. Scripture has been given to provide an unchanging standard against which we should judge the words and actions of those who would lead us towards God. Jesus tells us to listen to those who preach of the Gospel and discard the words of those whose teachings are not congruent with The Word. For, it is by their actions can you judge their teaching. By their fruits you shall know them. Examine the “fruits” of a persons actions, and you can see where their heart truly lies, is it with mammon, or is it with God? To quote President Reagan, “Trust, but verify.” Does what the person say match with The Word. We all have Bibles, most the Authorized Version. Does what the person preach match what God has said? Does their life live that talk? We do not want to follow people that produce evil, corrupted fruit, but good and plentiful and delicious fruit!
Actually, that brings us to another point, does the Bible you use match the real Word of God. It is not the grammar or style that count, but the facts, the points, the real message of Scripture. The Authorized Version comes from the Received Text and is reliable. Make certain the version you use loses nothing in the translation.
So once you let the Holy Ghost into your heart, then take the direction He Offers, read and understand Scripture, you will know what you are supposed to do. Then, you need to actually act on that knowledge.
Action counts. For by their actions ye shall know them.
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
Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
While I know what I should do at one level, I oft find my actions incongruent with what I am supposed to do. This incongruence is most evident amongst those with whom I am most comfortable; my family and closest friends. Is it because they “bring out the worst” in me? To quote Paul, “God forbid!” Perhaps it is because they are closest to my soul and I have no wall between us. Those actions, unacceptable amongst strangers, are even more unacceptable amongst family and closest friends. Yet they persist. Why? Perhaps because as an imperfect creature with free will my only hope is God. I need His help to grow closer to Him and to those around me. I need the Light of the Holy Ghost to shine into the deepest corners of my heart, to eradicate the darkness there and plate those crevices with His Light.
Apparently I am not the only imperfect creature with free will who has this issue, what a surprise! Consider this short piece by Jack Lewis:
Rats in the Cellar on our Journey towards Christ
We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
Looking at the little graphic, it seems that the little rats are enjoying their time in the cellar and thus will be hard to drive out. But, driven out they must be. Those cellar rats must go, they cannot be tolerated no matter how comfortable we are with them, no matter how much we think they cannot go. They must go.
Belfry rats, on the other hand, with their relationship to those same bats, would appear to be necessary to survival in this world.
Think about it.
 9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
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