Verse of the Day

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Todays sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider these words from the Collect:

Grant … thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind

We ask God to pardon our sins that we might serve Him with peace of mind.  That we might do His Work without having to worry about our fate.  It is good to have a clear mind when you go into battle, to be free of worry that you might do your best. You do not want to have a foggy mind when you are doing an action that requires your best concentration, so that is what we are asking from Him. To give us clarity of mind that we might do what is right. 

We need His pardon and peace to cleanse us from our sins, to enable us to have a mind that is quiet and focused on doing His will. It is a difficult thing to quiet our minds at times, but it must be done, so that we can focus on doing our best from Him.  The pardon and peace He gives is a perfect pardon and peace, He only asks that we go forth in the world and spread His Word, which will give the perfect pardon and peace to all that accept it.

Not everyone will accept it though, even though all should accept it, does not meant hat they will. We have to realize this, and some may not accept it at first, but it does not mean that we should give up on them, but rather let the Holy Spirit plant the seed, as He plants a seed in our hearts. As our fallen nature attests, we are not instantly transformed into a different person overnight, but rather thorough many days, weeks and years of practicing Christian beliefs, through reading Scripture and being around other believers. The transformation happens in a gradual process, that continues all of our lives.

Paul gives his clearest definition of the spiritual war between the forces of Satan and those who would follow God. It not only assures us that there is a spiritual war, but it warns us that apart from utilizing the weapons which God has provided for us, we are hopelessly underpowered. This passage tells us what our divine weapons are. Beyond this, these weapons imply the nature of the struggle which we are in. The weapons which God has provided for us are those weapons which best repel the attacks of Satan, and thus we can learn a great deal about the nature of Satan’s opposition from simply considering each of the weapons at our disposal:

Clothing Truth; this our cloak, as well as our cover;
Breastplate or Armored Vest Righteousness; being at one with the One True and Triune God;
Boots The Gospel; the Word of God will get you there;
Shield Faith; able to not only ward off blows of evil, but quench the fiery darts hurled at us;
Helmet Salvation; we are saved already, thus we cannot be harmed by any of the forces of this world, the armored helmet of the gift of salvation given to us by our Lord will protect us in the end, the only time that counts;
Weapon Up to now, the equipment has been defensive or at least supporting; but to win a war, you need to be on the offense, our offensive weapon is the sword of the Holy Ghost, the Word of God!
Now, what to do?  Clearly we are commanded to take the offensive, to “ride towards the sound of gunfire.”  Where the fight is, that is where we must go.  With the help of the Holy Ghost, we should open our “mouth boldly[1], to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” You don’t play the defensive in this spiritual battle, as in tactical warfare, nobody ever won a battle by being stuck on the defensive. You must go out and preach boldly and speak the truth and not worry about the consequences of doing so.

The Word spreads “by word of mouth” and by action.  Your mouth, your actions!

Speaking of actions, Winston Churchill said, “Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”[2]

Churchill was not the first. God wants us to persist.  Consider the case of the nobleman of Capernaum.  The man asked Jesus for help for his son.  Jesus did not immediately grant the request as He needed the man to persist to make a point for those around him.  He responded as he often did to Jews, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”  The man persisted and because Jesus saw faith in him, he said, focusing his attention on faith in God, “Go thy way; thy son liveth” or  "Be on your way. Your son is alive." In other words: "Do not worry. My Word can heal your son at a distance." The boy was healed in the very instant when Jesus spoke the Word. The father believed this Word. So did his household, wife, children and servants. More than one person was healed on that occasion.

This miracle shares characteristics with the previous healing of the Centurion’s son:

  • Jesus has just come back to Galilee.
  • Someone comes to him with a request.
  • Indirectly Jesus seems to refuse at first.
  • The person persists.
  • Jesus grants the request.
  • This leads another group of people (his disciples, the nobleman’s household) to believe in him.
Note the necessity of trusting in Jesus as the giver of life.  Of the text, Luther wrote: "Although the Lord performed miracles and signs to make Himself known and to lead people to faith in Him, the underlying purpose was to focus their attention on the Word rather than on the signs which served merely to attest the truth of His testimony. Faith must rest on the Word of God."  Another Lutheran theologian wrote: "In affliction faith is practiced and chastened. If a person can see, taste and experience the help and grace of the Lord, then that person learns to trust the Word and nothing but the Word. That is the true faith, trusting the Lord for its own sake. Such faith comes not from flesh and blood. It's the Lord to which faith clings. That almighty Word works faith."

Jesus led this nobleman from a "miracle" faith to a true faith in His Word. He does this to us also.

"Be on your way. Your son lives." This Word of Jesus was not only a prophecy. It had the power to heal the sick boy. And this Word took the nobleman's worries away. As it will take ours away if we will let it.

As we see in the Gospel, persistence is a very important part of the Christian life, it helps build our character in bad times, and also in good as well. No matter what we are going through, the persistence in faith is what builds us up as Christians, to keep going  in times that are less than pleasant, as we continue to progress as pilgrims to Our Father above.

We are asked to let God forgive us our sins and go to battle in this world with His armor.  With Him all things are possible; when we depend on our own pitiful resources, the outcome is in doubt and the result unlikely to be favorable in the end.  When you believe in our Lord and act on that belief, victory is certain in the end.  Understand, the result here on earth may not be the one you want, but it is the one God wants for you.  God expects you to accept His help and act with His help to gain victory over the prince of this world.

Consider also that God, through our Lord, offers forgiveness.  Forgiveness lets you restart your life, regain your foothold, strengthen your soul.  If you accept the forgiveness and go forward you can do great things.  If you will not, and likewise you will not forgive, you will be bound by the prince of this world and doomed to failure.  You will never attain the greatness of which you are capable with God’s grace and help.

Do what is right, I would say no matter if there is no one looking; but He is always looking.  It is not that hard.  Believe, take His help, act on the belief you profess, never ever give up. 

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?

The time to act is NOW.  Will you act?  For whom will you act?  Will you count the cost before you act?

Action, not diction, is what counts.  It is by your actions you are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

[1] Note the word is boldly, not cruelly or thoughtlessly or superciliously.
[2] Sir Winston Churchill, Speech, 1941, Harrow School

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saint Luke the Evangelist - superseding the Twentieth Sunday after TrinityIf

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Todays sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider the words of the Collect, “… inspire thy servant Saint Luke the Physician, to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son; Manifest in thy Church the like power and love, to the healing of our bodies and our souls …”

The Collect asks God to inspire us, that is His “Church”, through the intervention and help of the Holy Ghost, to accept the love and healing power of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that like Luke and those he touched, we might have our broken bodies and souls made whole.

This is such a familiar theme, asking God to help us come to know Him and His Help, the Holy Ghost.  Without His guidance, we really can do nothing in the end that is right.  What seems right to us always ends up in the swamp.  We need to recognize the need before we can benefit from the help He can give us.  We need to ask for help, then when it is delivered to recognize and accept it. The healing that comes from Christ can only happen if we are willing and able to listen to Him and to let Him into our hearts and minds. He does not come in to those who do not want to receive Him. We have to make it our desire to let Him in.

Paul is truly our ultimate example of God’s Power and Grace.  Paul, Chief Persecutor of the early Church, “saw the light” on the “Road to Damascus.”[1]  God chose Paul from amongst all the men walking the earth at the time to use his talents to further God’s purpose on earth.    An interesting paradox is that the closer you come to God, the more you appreciate how much separates you from His Godly Perfection, the more you realize your shortcomings.   But, at the same time the very God who chose Paul to do His Work has chosen you.  So, like Paul, see the Light and move to do His Will.  You will find that your life will have a purpose to it that cannot be defeated, for in the end, you are on the winning side, that of God’s eternal light. If you do your very best for Him on this earth, with your life, you will have a wonderful eternal reward for Him. It is a pretty powerful motivator that we need to remind ourselves of, more often.

So, when Paul writes to his beloved assistant, helper and fellow minister of the Gospel, Timothy, near the end of Paul’s time here on earth, he is trying to help him with earthly things and motivate Timothy to continue his work in the event they join not again here on earth[2].   He tells Timothy to spread the Word of God, to be prepared to endure persecution and affliction for the sake of the Word.   He notes that of all his followers or close companions only Luke remains with him.  Thus, when we despair of low numbers in our churches, we should remember Paul.  If Paul, arguably the greatest mind of all those who put God’s Word to pen, could not keep everyone in God’s Word, why should we expect such a differing result.  The big thing for Paul, and us, is don’t give up[3].  You cannot win if you give up and you cannot lose the war if you do not give up. 

At times, it does not seem easy to not give up, with what seems like depressing news at every turn, but we cannot lose that hope eternal, that Christ gives us. We have to look to the Holy Spirit and His Word to strengthen us and encourage us, to enable us to fight the good fight with all that we have. We have to always remember the great love Christ our master has for us, that He died on the cross for our sins, that we might have eternal life. If we remember this and apply the Summary of the Law to our life, and have hope, then all will be truly well with our souls. It may not be well in the world, but we can make our corner of the world a more pleasant place to be in, for us, and for others around us.

On the surface, our part in the battle with the Devil may appear to be won or lost, but as long as we do not give up, in the end God’s Side, and thus our side, wins.  To quote Winston Churchill, “Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”[4]

Not everything in life went smoothly for Paul, why would we expect it to be different for us?  We must persevere.  When we pray for help from God via the Holy Ghost, we pray for understanding, comfort, strength, patience, perseverance.  We are like iron, forged under fire, our character in faith is built with the hammering blows of life that are dealt upon us, to make us stronger people of God.

If you think everything is against us, you are not right, but a lot is.  There are many Alexander the Coppersmiths these days. We must strive not to be Alexanders, but to be more like Timothys daily. There are plenty of bad examples to go around, let us strive to be good examples, as much as we have it in us to be, and with the help of the Holy Ghost.

When Luke tells us of the Lord sending his representatives throughout the area which He Himself would travel, he is writing not only of ordained clergy or ministers, but of each of us.  We, each and every one of us, have a mission here on earth to Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3b), for truly, we are The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3a).  Yet, we cannot save people by bringing them to God, only He can do that.  But, we can tell them of Him and pray for the Holy Ghost to act on their hearts.  We serve the same purpose as did John the Baptist, to be Jesus’ messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Mark 1:2-3)  We can only prepare the way, God and the hearts of those to whom we talk must do their parts.  We seldom know what effect our work has, yet we must do it. 

When we bring the Word of God to people, it is not often accepted these days, for the forces of this world are very, very strong on people’s hearts.  The riches of this world blind people to their true poverty.  If the Word is not accepted, we merely move on.  Luke also tells us ministers of God should be supported by their congregations to the extent of their needs. 

This has a two fold purpose:

1.     If people do not pay for something, they oft have little regard for its value.  You can see the result of that in public housing.
2.     To the extent ministers of the Gospel devote their time to the Word, they do not have the ability to otherwise earn their living.  Balanced against this is the fact that the hire the laborer was worthy of was to meet their needs, nothing more. 

In the Anglican Orthodox Church of the United States, we have no paid ministers.  This is because we are small, we have experienced[5] ministers who have planned their lives to allow them to serve the Lord on their own dime, so to speak.  We must guard against this world entering our Church.  We are to be in the world, not of the world. It is a very fine line, that at times is difficult to see, but it must be seen and not crossed into the of the world, but yet remain in the world and engaged in the fight under our Lord’s banner.

Yet, this is more than just about “ordained ministers of the Gospel”, each of us must prepare the way for the Lord.  We are truly in a wilderness today.  The cares and riches of this world, for we live in the richest (in earthly terms) time ever, drag us away from the Word of God.   Each Christian must live their life as Christ taught, acting as a Beacon of Light, shining His Light into the world that others might see that Light and be drawn to it.

Thus the Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message ultimately.  We have to ready and willing to listen to God, and walk in God, and act with the Holy Spirit in us, in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven and bring those around us with us.   We cannot point people to God, we must lead them[6].

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?

The time to act is NOW.  Will you act?  For whom will you act?  Will you count the cost before you act?

Action, not diction, is what counts.  It is by your actions you are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

[1] Take a moment to reflect on the power of The Word.  These two phrases permeate our language, yet today few know where they come from.  An epiphical moment where a hidden truth or solution to a problem comes is known as “seeing the light”, the Light which Paul saw literally.  That moment is oft referred to as a “Road to Damascus moment.”  Yet, think how few read the Bible today to know the true meaning of the term.
[2] Note the length of this sentence, a typical Pauline sentence.  Paul seemingly was somewhat parsimonious in the use of periods.
[3] An interesting side note, the don’t give up is a part of one of the most famous quotes in naval history – Don’t give up the Ship - The name comes from the dying words of Captain James Lawrence to the crew of his USS Chesapeake, later stitched into an ensign created by Purser Samuel Hambleton and raised by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie, during the War of 1812.
[4] Sir Winston Churchill, Speech, 1941, Harrow School
[5] For the most part, they are either retired from some other field or have paying jobs, the ministry is their life’s work, not their “job.”
[6] Remember, for 285,000 people this day is their end of time here on earth, they face their Lord this day.  We know not at what hour the Master cometh, nor at what hour we may be called to Him.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

If you enjoy this, you can read the entire AOC Sunday Report RIGHT HERE!
Sermon Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Todays sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider the words of the Collect, “…without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts …”

The collect continues on the theme from last week, that without God’s mighty help through the Holy Spirit, we are not able to understand what we need to do to be one with God, to follow His Will; we need Him, through the Holy Ghost, to direct us in our endeavors, beliefs and understanding. 

This trend is evident in the Epistle, where Paul writes to the Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verse 17. “Yet henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened and alienated from the life of the God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

Paul basically is saying we should not do as the world does and look into ourselves for guidance for our spiritual lives. If you look into your inner self, you will find blood, guts and bodily fluids.  Looking there for guidance is just inviting a nasty disaster for our souls when we die and wake up from our death to find we are not only physically dead but have died a spiritual death, a permanent separation from God, as we are on the other side of that “fixed gulf.” There is a way to avoid this fixed gulf, and that is to accept His spiritual help and guidance and to let the Holy Ghost into our lives.

To do that, we must openly accept Him into our hearts and let Him guide our thoughts and actions. St. Paul tells us that we must begin to live our lives anew, to leave off the old sinful ways and thoughts of our old lives, to reboot as it were, and to start afresh by being honest, not prone to anger, to work hard, and think, speak and act kindness and to forgive as you would have God forgive you.  In short, we are to act on His Instructions and our lives will change as the natural result of doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Simply saying you believe changes nothing.  Change your actions and your heart must in the end follow, with the help of the Holy Ghost.  Your heart will be renewed through the entrance of the Holy Ghost.  This will show up a little later on, but it is an important message that bears repeating. It is the same with many changes you will need to make in your life, you have to make them, not just say that you are going to make them. To be a better person, to grow in the Spirit, you have to perform actions that are consistent and that the Holy Spirit guides you to do.

To be successful, Paul says we need to fix ourselves upon the waypoint of Christ and God and not use ourselves for a moral compass. For if we use our sense of direction, we shall not get far and indeed we will be in much distress, though we would not think of it otherwise due to our easily corruptible minds. However, if we rely on Christ as our navigator, He shall never fail us in His directions, if we will but listen to him. He, unlike us, will never let us down or withhold anything that we need to know, but the catch is that we have to be willing to listen to him. We have to be willing and able to listen to Him and then willing and able to act on what He tells us to do.

Paul also gives very practical and simple, though hard to follow, directions on living our lives:

·      Be honest;
·      Avoid anger;
·      Do not let anger linger over night;
·      Follow not the guidance of the devil;
·      Quit stealing;
·      Work hard;
·      Think kindness;
·      Speak kindness;
·      Act kindness;
·      Forgive as you would have God forgive you, which He hath done in Jesus Christ!
We move on to the Gospel, where Jesus, attending to a sick man, picks up on the evil thoughts of the temple scribes, who think to themselves Jesus blasphemed. However, if they realized who truly the Son of God was, Jesus, they would be shocked if they realized they had just accused God of being a liar and blasphemer. However, their darkness in their hearts, like the vanity of the Gentiles minds that Paul talked about, prevents them from seeing the truth of the person of Christ.  Then he asks them, which is easier, to say that the sins are forgiven, or to actually say “Arise and walk”, or in other words, the command or the actual physical action of the healing, of which is more important?

The command is important, but we find Jesus doesn’t just talk to hear himself talk, unlike some of the more modern “Christian” televised preachers who do.  He talks to  make a point and acts in accordance with the point He makes. If we believe His commandments, we will keep them, which means our behavior, our actions, will match His Words.  The book Acts of the Apostles, isn’t “Meditations”, “Philosophies” of the Apostles, but Acts.  Jesus puts forth emphasis on “Actions speak louder than words” through his actions. Actions truly show where a person’s heart is set. He may profess to be a member of Our Lord’s church, but if his actions do not match his profession then we shall clearly know he is not truly our Christian brother. We must make sure our actions match our claimed beliefs in Scripture. If our actions do not match the Scriptures, we are not truly following Christ. We will all struggle with this from time to time, but as long as we return to Christ with true repentant hearts, all will be fine with our souls.

If we profess to be Christians, then we need to act like Christians, not just say that we are Christians.  The ending sentence at the end of the sermons I have given thus far goes, “Be of God”, “Live of God” and finally, last but especially not least “Act of God.” We have to Be of God, and Live of God, to live our lives in a Godly and Christian way, which means as Paul said “Henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk”, so should we not walk in the ways of the world but that of God and His Heavenly Kingdom. Though originally, the term Gentile meant non-Jews (Ephesus was an early Gentile Christian church), nowadays Gentiles are those who conform to the world’s philosophies, including Christians that are Christians in name only and not in deed/actions, who do not follow “Be of God, Live of God and Act of God.”

To Act of God, we must follow the commandments of Christ and act according to them, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. If we do the three step process “Be of God”, “Act of God” and “Live of God”, we will find ourselves in a much better position than walking in the ways of the World.

The time to act is NOW.  Will you act?  For whom will you act?  Will you count the cost before you act?

Action, not diction, is what counts.  It is by your actions you are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Todays sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider the words of the Collect, “…grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God …”

When you hear the word GRACE, what do you think of? 
·      Help;
·      Heavenly dispensation;
·      A gift freely granted;
·      The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
The word can be any of these, it comes from Middle English: via Old French from Latin gratia, from gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’ and is related to grateful.

In this case we are asking God’s help, for which He charges nothing, except our faith and loyalty to Him, to withstand the temptations of this world.  We ask for help to withstand what?  Actually, what we are looking for is help to not follow our own devices and desires.  This seems like an odd request, until one considers the fact that our own devices and desires are the root of all of our troubles. We are naturally inclined to the sinful things that separate us from Our Lord. We are simply requesting help in combating the evil desires of our heart that would separate us for all eternity if they were left unchecked. We are simply asking for help to make His Will our will.  To help us to do what will make us happy and not just what makes us temporarily happy but permanently happy, which boils down to following His Word.. For we know that we ourselves will not do what His Will is on our own volition, but rather we must ask that God plant the seed of His Will on our hearts so that we will do it.
Paradoxically, we are asking for help to do not what we want, but what is best for us. There is a difference between what we want, and what is best for us, as there is a difference between the words want and need. What we want and what is best for us are not necessarily interchangeable.  We are asking God’s Help to make us want to do what He wants us to do, so that not only will we have “fun”, but be happy!  For, being happy is far more important and helps our spiritual lives more than the temporary state of fun. Fun will only last a few moments, happiness will last forever. There is a distinct difference between the two states of being. Fun is short lived while happiness can carry on through periods of time be it days, month or years.  On the surface, it does not really seem all that reasonable, but here we are imperfect creatures with free will! The free will sometimes or rather most of the time seems more like a curse than a blessing, at least to me. For I feel that with it, I am more tempted to go the wrong way than the right way, but when I go the right way, it then comes to me that it is a blessing.

Using it properly to follow God’s will, is what free will was intended by God to lead us to. He intended for us to follow Him willingly without any coercion whatsoever. He wants each and every one of us to come to His throne willingly and with all of our heart souls and mind for Him.
So, when Paul writes the people of Corinth, it is not just them, but us for whom he thanks God we have been the beneficiaries of His Grace, that through Jesus we might have salvation, that through Jesus our sins would in the end be forgiven.  We are not made perfect by Jesus.  That is a common misconception by non-Christians.  It would be convenient if we were made perfect.  This is an issue that is sorely needed to be addressed in today’s church, to combat the misperceptions of the non-Christians. The common complaint most non-Christians have of Christians is that we have a holier than thou attitude. There may be some indeed that have this attitude. But for the most part, they are confusing our righteous judgment of the world’s behavior with a holier than thou attitude. But they do not see that we realize that we are not perfect, but we are striving for perfection.  And there would be no point behind Christianity if that we had been made perfect. Would we have to have a “New Testament” if we were molded into cookie cutter perfection? If this was so, then there would be no need for the letters of Saint Paul, James, Peter and John to the early church, for they as us, would have no need of them. If we were made perfect, then there would be no strife in the word today I believe, and thus no reason to even have any of the parables that Jesus gave.  This is simply not so! While we are accounted as perfect before God in the final judgment, we are not perfect at all.  If anything, we are more conscious of our imperfection. 

As a side point, none of us is perfect, none of us is better than others; however, some of us are clearly worse than others. We clearly know more than those who do not believe that we are fallen far short of the goal that He expects from us, being in our fallen state, and we know how far we have to go to as get close to perfection as we possibly can. We need the help of the Almighty to travel on this path!
Which takes us to Paul’s next point; if we follow Christ in both out words and deeds, as the testimony of Christ is confirmed in them, through our actions, we will be “In every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge…”  For by acting on Christ’s words, we not only gain eternal salvation, but are far more likely to prosper here on earth.  This prosperity is not the mega wealth sometimes associated with “prospering”, but rather the surplus of resources over our worldly desires and the true happiness that comes from loving and helping others.  It will make us far more happy than say for instance people like Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, etc, that have far more money than even they know what to do with, and money cannot provide true happiness. Only God and Jesus can step in and fill that role, if we let him into our hearts.
But, not everyone is content to take Jesus at His Word.  After the Sadducees lost their round with Jesus, the Pharisees, feeling they were superior to the Sadducees, came together to trip Him up. However, as we know ourselves, one cannot trick God, and if you try, you will come out looking like a fool. An expert in the law, of which Pharisees were very fond, asked Him a question, trying to trick Him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Thus, He provided the Summary of the Law we hear every Holy Communion. 
The Pharisees made their earthly living by providing guidance on how to get around the 613 Mosaic Laws with as little inconvenience as possible.  They were astounded when Jesus boiled the intent of those laws down to two sentences.  They were much more comfortable getting around laws than complying with ones that might inconvenience them. They could be closely compared to Lawyers today as a matter of fact, in the striking amount of dishonesty that is in their profession (no offense to the good lawyers!).
Apparently tiring of the game with the Pharisees and wishing to confound them instead, Jesus asked them, saying, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?” They say unto him, “The son of David.”  For the scripture is clear that He should be of the House of David.  As God, Jesus has been from the beginning, so he queried them, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?”  Not grasping the concept that God was, is and always will be, they could not answer and “from that day forth” no one would “ask him any more questions.” Like I mentioned earlier, the result of their attempt to trick the Son of God made them look like absolute fools.
There have always been and always will be people who want to pick nits with the intent of avoiding doing what should be done, thus making it seems acceptable to do what they want to do.  You can see people every day who fill the shoes of the Pharisees, insisting on complying with arcane and useless rules and regulations while studiously avoiding doing what God so clearly asks, that is to be a Christian and do as Christ asks us to do.  People are always going to avoid doing what God wants us to do, that is in our nature. You can see this as the government attempts to supplement the rule of God with the rule of man. When a group of men believe that they have the right to control other humans with the rule of man and disregard the rule of God, you know that a society is in trouble. Ask Sodom, Gomorrah, Rome, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan how that worked out for them in the end. No country has ever fared well when it replaces God with the rule of Man. We are to be Christians, not “good”, to do what God asks, not Go with the Flow!  When you think about being a Christian, think a bit about these quotes from GK Chesterton:
·      Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

·      The word good has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.

·      The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.

·      Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

·      A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.

 G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
We are called to a new and different life, we ask the Lord, in His Grace, to lead us and follow us, to keep us always.  Our goal is to do the Lord’s will, not to avoid 613 laws or to replace Him altogether.  To do what is right, no matter how hard that may be and be humble. This is the summary of what the Christian life should be all about.

Action, not diction, is what counts.  It is by your actions you are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God.