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Sunday, May 21, 2017
Fifth Sunday after Easter, commonly called Rogation Sunday
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:
… by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same …
As we near the Ascension and thus Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Ghost, we ask for God’s “holy inspiration we may think those things that are good”, that is to say help from the Holy Ghost so we might direct our souls to the things we cannot see as good without His Help. Once we see them, we need His “merciful guiding” so we “may perform the same…”. After all, what good is it to know what we should do, if we won’t, can’t or don’t do it?
That brings us right to Saint James’ point, we gain our salvation through the freely given gift of Grace by our Lord Jesus Christ. Once given, it must be accepted. If we truly accept the gift, it will be evident in our actions. Our actions will naturally reflect that we are a hearer and a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer only. To truly a believer requires that we make that belief known in our lives through action. If you are going to be a Christian, the key is right there – BE. Being requires action, not just diction. Many can talk the talk, but will they walk the walk, too? Being a Christian requires doing both, which may be very difficult sometimes, but it must be done. It is the only way we will have salvation through Christ, but yet we must be with Him, by acting for Him. If you are going to be a Christian, what you say is of no import compared to what you DO. Do your actions reflect God’s image or that of the other guy? Who do you put first? Pretty basic questions that often we don’t like the answer to. But they must be answered nevertheless, all the same.
We must align our lives to be able to show people we do follow Christ. There are too many people who claim to be Christians, who are clearly not, because their lives do not reflect their stated belief. We must not let this happen. We must show the truth of John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” To show this truth we have to live that truth through our actions. It is not just enough to say we know the Word of God, if we truly know the Word of God, we will act upon that Word of God and serve Him in this life.
Without Christ’s guiding light, we are not on the path to holiness and righteousness. We must show this in our lives, by living and breathing His Word, and using His Word to guide us throughout our lives. These are all actions we naturally take which demonstrate we have belief and are acting upon that belief. This is important to our souls for our spiritual health, and as well as our physical health too. We need all the Help of the Holy Ghost to keep us on this path. How do we keep on this path?
We find a lot of help in John’s words, he give us insight into things that none of the other disciples do. We need help. We pray for help. Pray for help that we might act, and that is how we keep on the straight, narrow and uphill path. So, what about prayer? Let’s start with to whom do we pray?
Jesus is pretty clear. Don’t pray to Him, pray to God. Feel free to use His Name. Pray to God in His Name. In effect, we are CC’ing (Carbon Copying, to use an archaic term which as transitioned to an electronic mail (email) term) Jesus in our prayers. We are not to put Him in the To: line, but the CC line. Not addressing Him directly, but to address God directly with Jesus copied, as it were. He tells us God loves us because we love Jesus. But, pray to God. I think that not many people have ever understood this part of scripture, as I have heard people pray to Jesus when he is not the correct person to address your prayers to. He specifically tells us to direct the prayers to His Father who will help us.
If that is the case, seems like it pretty much rules out praying to Saint Bob, does it not? If we can’t pray to Jesus, why would we be praying to a Saint? We would be praying to a human, who we may or may not put any trust in. But if we pray to God, we can be certain He will answer us, and even if we don’t like the answer, we know that is the course we will have to take. It doesn’t matter if we like God’s answer or not, we still have to listen to it, and do it anyway, knowing it will be the right path in the end. We will always have some sort of a struggle with this in our lives, but if we turn to God, He will help us win our struggle.
We have to listen to His Answer and think on it and then act upon His Answer and not just dismiss it. Dismissing it is all too easy for us to do, since we are naturally inclined to follow our natural desired, not His. But we have to think that dismissing His Answers will not gain us anything in the long or short term. We need to listen to His Answers and then act upon them, which will be the key to true happiness within our lives.
We have to realize what we truly need and ask that He will open our hearts, minds and souls to His answer that we might act upon His answer. The critical portion is that we act upon the answer that we are given, to do our best for Him and that our friends, family and coworkers and neighbors might see the light we shine for Him and see who we follow in word and in deed. We must show others not just through our words, but through our actions that we truly belong to Christ’s flock. We must show great love for our fellow man, even to the point of death, through our actions, to reflect Christ’s love for us, that He too loved us even to the point of death.
So, pray to God, ask for what you want in Jesus’ Name. He always listens and He always delivers. The problem for us is He delivers what we need, not necessarily what we want. Our wants and our needs are oft different, in fact they are seldom the same. But we should want what we need, and God will help us understand that, if we be a doer and a hearer of His Word. He will always give us what we need, but will we listen to what He wants us to do?
Need and want, they are both four letter words, oft used interchangeably, which do not mean the same thing.
God’s Will is always done, we just don’t understand. Accept what happens as acceptable, so long as you have done all you can. In the end, all that counts is where you go when you leave here. That depends on your actions in following Jesus’ instructions. If you believe, you are safe. Now and forever.
Ø Talk the Talk;
Ø Walk the Walk.
It is 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