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Sunday, July 16, 2017
Fifth Sunday after Trinity
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:
… the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness …
In the Collect, we ask the events of this world might follow God’s governance or will. Why? Because in those places where it does, we find happiness and joy. And good things will happen when we do follow God’s will. The collect is expressing that not just we Christians should attempt follow God’s governance but that also of the whole wide world. Think about it, if the world would do what God ask, think of how much better it would be. It is that simple, it means more, reflect on that. After all, amazing is it not? Since the Garden, it has always been one of the two same choices:
As long as we are human, imperfect creatures with free will, it will never change for humanity. But, we individually can change, and with enough individuals changing, humanity will change. The key is an individual changing. A snowball of these individuals changing can eventually in time cause an avalanche of individuals changing. Of course, as we all know this is not an easy task to accomplish. To accomplish it, we must give up our base desires and wants and look to what God wants for us to do in this world. We must focus on an aspect we need to change and work on changing that, day by day, year by year. It is a constant process we will undergo throughout the rest of our days on Earth.
We can learn from the past and live for the future in Him who gave His Life we might be free eternally. This is a very similar theme to last Sunday’s sermon, with very good reason. It applies to almost every single lesson in the Bible, which is to do God’s will, above what you want to do. Every time we do what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do, we fail. But when we do what God wants us to do, we succeed! Even though we want to do what we do, rather than what God wants us to do, it is better for us in the end to do what God wants us to do. Doing what God Asks = Happiness, Not doing what God Asks = Unhappiness, to put it into mathematical terms!
So, how do we make our little part of this world follow God’s will? Peter tells to be of one mind, have compassion and pity for each other, to be courteous, to give good to all our brethren, to return good for evil, to seek peace, to do good, not just talk good. He is saying that we need to BE good and it needs to show in our actions. We need to put away our evil thoughts and words and replace them with words of kindness and healing.
Peter tells us to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. When Peter speaks of being of one mind, he is speaking of the one mind we will have when we follow the instructions of the Holy Ghost. He is saying we need to have one mindedness with Christ, to act as Christ would act. This is a hard concept to put into action in our lives. We are always having to work on overcoming our natural sinful tendencies and letting the Holy Ghost into our hearts to transform us into Children of God. That means putting away our old selfish minds and putting on the new one mind of Christ. The Holy Ghost will help us to have this one mind.
We have to start first with ourselves and allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts to transform us. After we are transformed by the Holy Ghost, only then can we truly be able to help others. Then we can truly act with the one mind Peter speaks about. It will not happen right away, but it is a steady and continuous process, in fact taking most of our lifetime here on earth. But while we are being transformed, we can do our best to help others. But we must realize that it is only through God we can help others, and not to us only. To put ourselves in others’ places, understand when they fall short and make good things happen. The key word is “walk”, to act upon the teachings of Christ, and not just utter them and not do them. All of us, including myself, struggle with this; but as long as we are DOING our best, and not just saying it, then that is all He asks of us. We cannot do more than our best. We must be doing our best and not just faking doing our best. There is a significant difference between the two. If you are sincere, people will know it. If you are not sincere, people will also know it too. As they say, actions speak louder than words. And to paraphrase Scripture, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. To understand where a persons’ heart is, look at their actions and not just their words. Words do not mean much unless they are backed up by actions. We need to perform good actions, with the help of the Holy Ghost, to show that we truly believe.
So, just how do we make good things happen? Fairly simple, do what God asks! Follow the Summary of the Law and all shall be well in one’s life. Every moral law hangs off of the Summary of the Law “Love your God with all your heart soul and your mind, and Love thy Neighbor as thyself.” These two commandments are all where the Ten Commandments originate and thus from which all the moral laws of the universe originate. They are the ultimate benchmark for us, which we should try and do our best to meet. They are truly what we should be judging our own actions against. This is an extremely common theme again! Doing what God asks is the answer to all of our problems if you think about it! Don’t figure out ways to seem to do what He asks, while doing what you want. Don’t be a Pharisee! Consider when Jesus told Simon Peter to go out and set his nets. Simon was tired, he was hungry, he had fished all night with no result. After making excuses, he decided to do what he was told! There is a lesson there, instead of making excuses why things are the way they are, why not be quiet and do God’s will instead? It will have a lot better results that is for sure, like Simon Peter and his nets! The net gathered an incredible catch Simon Peter and his friends could not board.
That is what happened to Simon Peter; that is what will happen to you, if you will but listen. Listening and then acting are the key principles of this Gospel, we must listen to what He says, and then ACT upon it.
Do not misunderstand, every day Jesus speaks to you, telling you what to do. It is your choice, you can listen like Simon Peter or you can ignore Jesus. He has the pony for the lottery. He wants to give it to you, all you have to do is accept. While He is a bit more subtle than a Drill Instructor, the question is the same, “Can you hear me?” The problem with us is that we just do not want to hear. That is why we need the Holy Ghost to open up our ears, that we might hear and obey.
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