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:
…put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity …
In the Collect, we tell God we put our trust for eternal life not in our actions, but in His Power. If we do this, then we must do as He asks us. For, to make trust in His Power rational, we must follow His Directions. We cannot trust our own sense of direction for spiritual matters; but must look to Our Heavenly Father for guidance. If we do not follow His Direction then we are surely going be just as lost as before we accepted Him into our hearts. It would be foolish to think we could guide ourselves, when in fact we need Him to guide us. The problem is in our case pride often gets in the way of seeing that we need to rely on Him for guidance. Pride blinds our spiritual senses from seeing God’s truth and we need God’s truth to get through life and onto that narrow upward path towards heaven. We need Him as our navigator to guide us along the rocky paths of life, so we don’t crash into the rocks of Sin and Death! We need His directions if we are to proceed upon the path to Heaven.
The Collect also goes on to explain His Power will give us defense in adversity. It explains that His Power is the only real power which can help us in times of trial and tribulation. His Power will protect our souls. Our bodies may get beaten and bruised but if we trust in Him and let Him into our hearts, our souls will be intact. The key is that we to rely on His counsel and judgement. It is the only power which will give us comfort in times of adversity and strength to get through those times.
Recognizing that God has the power to help us overcome adversity is key. Of our own volition we can sometimes overcome physical adversity, but never spiritual. With God’s help we can overcome both. We need to internalize this into our hearts, so our first automatic reaction is to come to Him for help whenever we encounter either spiritual and physical dangers. He can help us with whatever adversities we are facing, but only if we let Him into our hearts.
Paul tells the Corinthians whatever they have suffered there compares nothing to what he has suffered for Christ in all of his labourings, watchings and fastings. Yet this is not his main point, which is in all of these sufferings he always drew on the power of the Holy Spirit and used the sufferings for God’s glory and not for his. He is not bragging when he tells them of what he suffered, however, he is meaning to say he got through these hard times with God’s help and also to bring glory and point the way to God and His Son Jesus Christ. His point is if God helped him get through all of this turbulent and troubled experience, God can and will help us through these times too if we will but let Him. He cannot help us if we do not let Him, so let us make sure we are opening our hearts to His Guidance. We will be a much happier people if we do this.
From his beginnings as the chief persecutor of Christ’s followers to now as one of the top apostles of Christ, Paul tells us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example. Paul wanted to show us how God’s Grace and mercy changed His life and got Him through some pretty bad times. Paul pointed out if you trust in God and follow His Instructions, you too can get through the most awful of times as well. Thus, he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves. Do your best and look towards God.
This brings us right in to the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike.
Like the seed sown by the sower, The Word is spread throughout the world for all to hear and act on:
- Yet, some will not even hear The Word (Hard ground);
- Others will hear, act quickly and abandon God’s help at the first sign of adversity (Stony ground);
- Still others will hear The Word, but The Word is overtaken by the “pleasures” of this world and is choked out by them. Like the line from the Bible, where your money is, that is your worldly effort, there is the evidence of your heart. The temptation of this world is great, the reward from God is far greater, but you have to look long term;
- Finally, we come to those who accept and act on The Word, like the one seed growing into a great plant bearing its fruit, the rewards are manifold, though the effort is also great, the end reward far greater. For the seed to grow to full fruition and glory, with its manifold blessings, it must have the ground prepared, carefully tended against encroachment of the evil weeds, it must be continually watered by the life blood of those around it. There is much effort required on our part, but the ultimate reward is so much greater.
While we are on the subject, consider the issue of weeding. In order for a garden to thrive, you need to consistently pull the weeds from the garden, otherwise the weeds will choke and kill the good plants. That is why we must always be wary of the world’s influence on the church and work to weed out that influence, so it does not choke the Biblical truths believed for over two millennia by Christians. In order to do this, we need to work hand in hand with our fellow believers to weed out any worldly influence or trouble within the church. This is why it is best that believers attend a Bible believing Church, where they can get valuable friendship and from that friendship, spiritual mentoring for their day to day lives.
So, think about this, we need to understand eternal life and indeed on a shorter term, happiness in our life here, comes not from our self-directed actions, but those of God and our action following His direction. We need to understand the implications of following our self-directed action, which if we follow, we will find death and misery awaiting us. However, if we put our trust in Him and follow His commands, all will be well with us and our souls. Understanding the difference between the two will help you prepare yourself for a happier physical and spiritual life. Do your best and look towards God for the Light to illuminate your path. If you prepare your heart, as the farmer prepares the field, root out the forces of this world as the farmer roots out weeds, cultivate the good given by God, water your heart with His Water, your life will be manifold.
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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