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Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
s 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. His pardon and peace will help us clear our minds from worrying thoughts and distressed thoughts, if we will but let Him in. 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.
When we mention peace, many people connect with the 1960s, peace, drugs, rock and roll. That is not at all what the Peace of God means at all. Not even remotely. The peace that God gives us is the calmness in our soul when the world is crumbling around or even on us. When things are going wrong at work, school or home, peace is the feeling that God is with us and that we have nothing to fear from whatever it is that is troubling us. For whatever is troubling us be it work trouble, school trouble or home trouble, cannot be greater than Him who created us and all of creation and all the planets and all of the stars. It is the sureness that we service Him who created all things and sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us, that we might have eternal life. It is also knowing that through His Son we have that eternal life and that we do not have to fear death unlike those who do not believe.
It is that peace of mind and soul that comes from knowing we are currently transients or travelers in a world to which we do not belong. The peace that comes from being a non-resident alien in a pretty strange place. This peace will take the place of worry. You can then concentrate on what you can do and not be concerned with what you cannot do; for if you cannot really do it, it is pointless to concern yourself. That is the whole point of peace, having it will give you calmness and rational thinking to do what you need to do for Him. The peace gives you the confidence to perform actions, even in difficult and very trying circumstances. Once again, action, not diction, is paramount.
Not everyone will accept it though, even though all should accept the offered gift, it does not mean 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. And so it will be to with some of the non-believers we encounter in our lives, that seed we plant may germinate in time to bring them to Christ.
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, 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 problem with the church today is that they are afraid of offending people and just think the best way to reach the lost people is to get along with them. This will not work, this concept is basically aiding and abetting the enemy, also known as treason. We must not commit this dreadful act!
We must not be afraid to preach the truth of the Gospel through ought the world and not worry ourselves with what the world will think. For what the world will think is not as important as what God thinks. And by the word bold, we are not to put a holier than thou air and talk down, nor are we to cruelly shout down the opposition, but with confidence in our voice, we will not allow ourselves to be intimidated by the enemy. We will do our actions and say the truth with clarity and confidence. That is what it means to preach the Word boldly.
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.”
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. In distressing times or late at night it is often easy to forget this, but we must remember that we need to keep going, no matter how hard it seems. It is a comforting fact that He is with us in these most distressing times.
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
Sir Winston Churchill, Speech, 1941, Harrow School
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