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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.
The Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity
LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Consider these words from the Collect, … absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. …
The Collect asks God to pardon our offences, that is our wrongs, failures and failures to act as we should, where we have “erred and stray from His Way like lost sheep”, through His great mercy. Note, through the mercy of God, not because we have been good, but because we cannot be good without Him in the form of the Holy Ghost. Without His Light, we are darkness. We need Him to deliver us from the multitudes of sins, by which our frail nature of ungodliness, we have committed. Each day we find new ways to sin, or at least we think that until we find in fact there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Truly there is nothing new. The human heart is always as dark and depraved without the shining light of the Holy Spirit as it ever has been. People are always seeking ways to get around God and His Laws, but they truly cannot. Our only hope is to be in Him and be reborn in the Spirit. As Abraham Lincoln said in the famous Gettysburg address “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” Only under God, can be reborn a new, and as he said, our freedom will be reborn again. We can only be reborn in the spirit and not the flesh as Nicodemus found out when he came to Jesus by night. In order to be re-born a new in the spirit, we first have to ask for our sins to be pardoned and be delivered from our sins by Jesus Christ Our Lord and Our Heavenly Father.
And once we ask for our sins to be pardoned, we have to go forth and persevere in our efforts not to sin again. Only then can we be truly re-born. Through a sense of godliness, we obtain that “new birth” of freedom. If everybody in this country followed that simple advice, just think of how great our country would be. Look at Abraham Lincoln for an example of a Godly man, one of the greatest Presidents ever elected, who by following God and His Word, helped preserve the Union of this wonderful nation, albeit at a great cost to our freedom and with a huge expansion of government.
In the Epistle, St. Paul tells the Colossians if we are to be reborn through Christ into a “new birth of freedom”, as Lincoln said, we must place our hope not on Earth, but in Our Heavenly Father and his abode above.
Unlike earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and thieves break through and steal, in heaven, we shall encounter none of that. We shall encounter none of the imperfections we see here on Earth daily. It is truly a wonderful place to be. We must always set our sights on our destination of heaven. It is truly the only place where we can place any hope and not be disappointed. God will never fail us; we just need to not fail Him. We have to do our best to follow Him here on earth and do our best to spread to Word to the people around us. If we do this, the truth shall shine forth through in our work, at home, in our daily lives and people shall see Christ working through us for His purposes. If we follow what God asks, which is a very common theme in the Bible, as it is in my sermons, we prosper and do well.
Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ heals a woman, who has such supreme faith in Christ healing her, that if she but touches his cloak, she knows she will be healed. She did not have any doubts about Christ’s power to heal her. She truly had a solid faith. She depended not on the talisman of the cloak, but the power of Christ with which she expected to connect. She knew Christ had the power to heal her and believed He would heal her. Christ was impressed by the woman’s faith. If we had the faith of this woman in Christ, imagine how we could impact the world around us. And, I might add, what is stopping us? The ruler whose daughter had died also shared this amazing faith in Christ. He had zero doubt whatsoever Christ would do these things.
Also, the faithful centurion and the man whose son was sick had this tremendous faith. The faith of all of these, in particular the ruler whose daughter had died was truly strong. Christ recognizes this man’s faith and rewards with the girl’s resurrection. Quite a surprise for those who had just laughed and scorned him, basically telling him “That is impossible, you can’t raise the girl from the dead.”
He proved them wrong. He gave a very practical demonstration that much is denied men, but though God all things are possible. But, we need the faith of the woman, the faith of the ruler and the faith of the centurion. We must follow Him and the plan that He lays out for us. We have to be willing to listen and be ready to follow Him. In time, we shall too have an amazing reward, through our faith and we shall be in a “new birth of freedom” from otherwise certain death. We can do things thought impossible, if we put our trust in Him, as I have aforementioned.
This is what Jesus meant when he said we could move mountains with our faith. If we put our trust and faith in Him, nothing that we need to do is impossible for us to achieve. We must keep listening to His Guidance and to do our best to follow Him.
Works must follow faith however. We cannot have a full faith, unless we act to demonstrate the faith. Faith is demonstrated through our actions, and our Lord set this in His Example for us to follow.
Jesus’s miracles were all about actions, not just in word, but in deed. He did both, as we must also. If we only talk the talk, but do not walk our talk, then our words mean nothing. If we walk the walk also, our words have weight, meaning, as we become men and women of the Word. I say of the Word and not like the old saying, he is a man of his word. For we want to become a Man/Woman of His Word, not our word! If we go by His Word, we can never go wrong. We always seem to go on our word and that is where we get into trouble. It is action not just diction which counts. The two can go together, but in the end, actions speak louder than words.
Following this theme of words and action, on preparing my sermon for the upcoming Veteran’s Day, I realized God has used godly men for our freedom to be kept, by laying down their lives for ours. No greater love could be found in the world, then those men who died in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, the Pacific and the European theatres of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert 1 and 2, Afghanistan and countless dirty little wars where the freedom of our country and that others was threatened.
Through a sense of godliness, these men went to battle on our behalf, as Christ battled Satan on our behalf. These men did not just go into battle with the godliness, they prayed hard for them, they prayed for each minute just to stay alive, especially in the hellholes of the Pacific and the European theaters. The danger they faced were far more perilous than the ones we face today. We overcame the enemy, not only because of our superior tactics, but we had men ready and willing to take the enemy on and do our best to prevail, and that followed God.
The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately. We have to have faith in Christ and God, and be willing to accept the Holy Ghost into us, that through Him, we may do good works on Earth and that we will receive our just reward for doing what is right in the end.
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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