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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.
Consider these words from the Collect, … who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire …
We acknowledge God will give those who love Him more good than they can imagine, let alone ask for. But, first you have to love Him. How do we accomplish this? We do it by asking the Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts so we might truly love Him. If we do, more good will come to us than we can even imagine or hope for. The point of the collect is that we cannot fathom how much goodness will happen to us, if we follow Him. With His Infinite Grace and Love, God has the potential for unlimited amounts of Goodness. But the key word here is Love. And where we do we get that love from? We are back to the Holy Ghost. He is a key element of love, without Him we cannot even love Him. If we cannot love others we have seen, how can we love Him who we have not seen? He gives us far more love than we can possibly deserve.
Who is the other component in this equation? Jesus! Jesus is that missing variable in our complicated equation state. He is the X. He can give us his guidance and grace via the Holy Ghost, to make us better men and women of the Lord. He will help us to utilize the Holy Ghost to love God the Father. He is who we need to gain eternal life. By His Sacrifice, made one time, for all mankind, for all time, we are accounted as perfect by His Faith and Action.
This is a rather stark contrast to our rather usual shortsighted short term view, we must think in the terms of the big picture, not the tiny speck in the picture. We are not used to thinking in the long term view. Think of going through life to get to Heaven as like flying an airplane. Flying an airplane requires constant adjustments and as you can imagine everytime you fly you learn something. That concept carries over into general day to day life. Every day we learn something be it big or small. What matters is that we learn from what we did wrong and not just what we did right. We endeavor to repeat what we did right and not repeat what we did wrong.
Lots of little tiny fluid adjustments are required in our lives here on Earth. Some will be easier than others of course. And we will fail from time to time as that is just our human nature. We have to get back up and be ready to start again and not the same mistake again that caused us to fail. When acting, think of how your actions will impact you, your family and others down the road, before acting and make the necessary fixes, if any are needed. The Holy Ghost can provide the inspiration and guidance we need to think through our actions. We just need to listen to Him at the moment when we need to act and remind ourselves that our future will be better if we listen to the Holy Ghost rather than ourselves.
We have to think of ourselves as a part of God’s much bigger plan, and act to the best of our abilities and with the guidance of the Holy Ghost as a positive aspect of that larger picture. Each of us has a role to play in His Plan. We do not know the whole details of that plan, but God will give us our part of His Plan if we but listen to what He has to say. And the key word here is to listen. We have to listen to what He actually says and not what we want Him to say. There is a distinct difference between the two.
In today’s Epistle, Paul says as Jesus Christ died and rose again, so too should we die to our sins and rise again in a better state. He uses this metaphor to describe both our life here on earth as previously we had been living in our corrupt natural state and through the renewal of the mind through the Holy Ghost, we are transformed into something more pure than we had been.
And as he says, as death has no dominion over Jesus Christ, so too shall it have no more dominion over us. For by His death and resurrection, He has paid the wages for our sin, which as Paul says in Romans is death. His death paid for our sins, so we might be accounted as perfect to get into heaven. Paul is telling us about that same accounting irregularity we mentioned earlier and Christ is that accounting irregularity. As we of our own volition cannot resolve the accounting issue, and thus cannot be worthy on our own to get into heaven..
The resurrection truly is the greatest miracle Jesus performed. Because before He came and died for our sins, we could not get into heaven on our own and in fact still cannot. It is by God’s Grace, that He sent His only begotten son, that we should not perish, but have everlasting life.. I find myself still amazed every time I think of it. How we poor sinful creatures who could not make it to heaven on our own, have had our wages of sin paid by our Lord’s death upon the Cross.
The lesson of the Gospel is that we must put aside our often foolish and angry thoughts and not act upon them, but rather have Christly thoughts and act upon those. We can’t advance God’s cause here on Earth if we are angry all the time. We have to be able to think and make rational decisions and we can’t do that if we are angry. This is another concept easier said than done. Instead of acting irrationally, we must instead think calmly and figure out the best way to handle whatever situation we are in without losing control of our emotions. How do we do this? The clear solution is to pray to God and ask for His Help in bridling our tongue and have it be a tool of reason rather than a tool of anger and deceit! And to also remember this every time we are in a moment of heated emotion.
When Jesus gave His Life for us, He did it knowing we would fail to follow in perfection, but fully aware some would follow to the best of their ability. We must get back up after we make our mistakes and continue on trying the best we can to follow Him. That is all He asks, do your best. Even Saint Paul had trouble following our Lord, but he kept trying and doing his real best not to make the same mistake again. Doing your best is not the same as saying you are doing your best.
There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.
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