Verse of the Day

Sunday, March 10, 2019

First Sunday in Lent

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 these words from the Collect:

… Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory …

In the Collect, we ask God to help us change our natural evil tendencies so we can live life here His way and honor His wishes so we can be truly happy.  Without His help, we end up with what we want, not what we need.  Lent is the time in which we focus on fighting our sinful selves and working with the Holy Ghost to reconcile us with what God wants for us. What we want is not the same as what we need. We are asking him to help us fight our human nature and follow His divine nature, we are attempting to replace our nature with that of God’s. It is a long and difficult road we must travel, doing this, but we are going to be much happier in the long run if we at least do our best. Do or do not, there is no try, Yoda is quoted as saying, and I find it applicable here and in my own life. We have to act, not just say we are going to act, but we must physically perform ACTIONS!
Wantand Need; two words, used interchangeably in both our speech and thought that do not mean the same thing. Think about that!

Following the thought of the Collect, Paul asks us to be worthy of the grace God has given us.  He tells the people when they needed him, He was there.  Following his example, we need to be there for those around us.  We must not frustrate God’s work by showing up late, or not at all. It all goes back to Jesus’ saying, No man can serve two masters. We have to make a choice in this life and decide whom we are to serve, God or the Devil, and then act on it.  Our life as a Christian depends on our actions here on Earth. Our actions here on earth reveal who we truly serve God or Satan. The Holy Ghost will help us guide us towards actions that serve God, but we have to let Him into our hearts.

There is only one good choice for us and that is to serve God, of course. Paul is advising people they can’t simply hold a position between the two, for there is no middle ground here. We have to be on one side or the other.

We have to put in our 110% for Him, as He sent His Son to die for us and redeem us, so we should truly show our gratitude for His actions, by serving others and performing actions for Him, with His Help. We actually have to act upon our faith in order to live it. We do not have any faith if we are not actively acting upon it. It is a constant truth that we will always be largely outnumbered in this world by the enemies of God.  

It goes along with the saying, The best defense is a good offense. So, too, is it in this hostile world. While spreading the Word we need to be always going on the offense, spreading it to those who have not heard it. We have to always keep moving, or else we will be overrun by the Forces of Satan. We have to do this by doing actions that are consistent with His Word and show that we truly believe in Him and not just say we do.

Those around us are watching our actions in the time of testing.  God is also watching us in the time of testing to see how we perform with the talents He has given us. He is not testing us per se, but is evaluating our performance under the pressures of temptation and the hardships of this world.  It is truly is a hard battle we are fighting, against the forces of wickedness, of the Devil, all across the globe.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill, we must never never never ever give up in the battle against the forces of darkness. We are on the side of the Word, of the Light and in the end we will prevail.

Our actions show God and those around us whom we truly serve,  God or the Forces of Satan. Which side will you serve? You in the end have to choose one side or another. Pick the winning side now, which is the Forces of God, and you will have a rich everlasting life. The key to winning this battle for souls is to never ever ever give up and to trust in God and Dread Naught. 

We have been given eternal salvation by Jesus’ sacrifice, the understanding of the Gospel by the Holy Ghost.  We are at this time dying here on earth, yet progressing towards eternal life in the next world, in Jesus’ World, with His help. While we may never be wealthy here on earth, our actions can make our fellow Christians wealthy in spirit beyond measure.  

If you claim to be a Christian, you know what is right.  If you are a Christian, you do what is right, you don’t take a vote to see what the right course of action may be. Doing what is right does not depend on public opinion and we must do the right thing. In fact the public opinion oft times is rather in the wrong; see people’s opinions on slavery, homosexual marriage and abortion to understand this. It does not matter what others’ opinions are, that does not change the universal truth of God and His Message. We will be despised because of the opinions we hold from understanding the Gospel and His Message, from being on the side of righteousness. 

All we wish is for these individuals to repent of their sinful ways and turn back to God.  There is nothing hateful about that. It is the depravity of sin that causes those to accuse those who are on God’s side of being hateful. It blinds them to the bright light that those of God’s flock shine upon the darkness. However, it goes back to There are none so blind as will not see and none so deaf as will not hear. There will be many whose ears are closed off to the message as they are blinded by mammon. But there will be some who eventually open their ears. All we can do is plant the seed and let the Holy Spirit germinate it. 

We must go especially against the grain to become Christians. The truth does not change, as it is the constant that never changes. God is the Truth, The Word and the Life of this universe. The Truth is God, and like God, the Truth never changes. It is our actions that count, in good times or bad.  We are Christ’s ambassadors to this world; unfortunately, we do not have diplomatic immunity. 

When the Devil attempted to tempt Christ, he showed how little he knows of Him.  If we emulate our Lord, it shows how little the Devil will be able to tempt us with his deceit. If we follow Him we will be able to withstand any temptation that arises as our Lord showed for us in the desert 2,000 years ago. 

Consider how little the Devil really offers you and how much Christ offers, the temptation is ever so much less.  The Devil is often referred to as the Deceiver or Dissimulator.  His forte is deception; he seems to be one thing, but is another.  He offers what he has no intention or ability to deliver. He actually has zero ability to deliver on his large promises, he has no right to give away what is not his! 

The Devil clearly knows Jesus is the Son of God.  There is no doubt in his mind.  So, having understood that, consider what he offers Jesus in temptation.  

Remember, Jesus has fasted 40 days OF HIS OWN CHOICE; now comes the devil daring Him to show His Power by turning the stone into bread.  This to the Son of He who delivered manna daily to the Jews in the wilderness for 40 years.  

Cast thyself down and let angels catch thee; this to He who walked on water.

Up to the mountain lookout – Here is it all yours if you worship me.  This to He, who as it says in Psalm 95:

his hand are all the corners of the earth; * and the strength of the hills is his also.

The sea is his, and he made it; * and his hands prepared the dry land.

O come, let us worship and fall down, * and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is the Lord our God; * and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

The devil promised Jesus nothing that was his to give, nothing that would help Jesus in the real world beyond the Shadowlands. He never does.  The devil is all about shortcuts.  Remember, if the shortcut was the best way, it would not be a shortcut. The devil will not help us at all in the long run, if you look at things from the eternal perspective. That is what we need to keep in mind every time he tempts us. 

The temptation of Jesus is no different than the Devil’s attempt to tempt us!  The Devil never delivers what we need, only what we, in our imperfection, want.  He can’t understand what we really need, he only knows what we want. This is an advantage we have over him. We understand what we truly need; if we remember it, then holding off against the temptations is easier. Rememberas little as the Devil understands of Christ, the same way, as we are in God, so he understands little of us.  He will never offer you real help.  Remember that and the temptation is ever so much less.

Or, as my grandfather said, “Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole”

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits. Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

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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