Summary: There are defining moments in our spiritual lives that define who we are and lay the foundation for who we will become and how God will use us.
20140810 9th Sunday after Pentecost A
(The fork in the road on our power point slide represents defining or decisive moments in our lives.)
Title: Defining Moments
Text: Romans 10:1-13
Thesis: God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you cannot take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we gave done, so none of us can boast about it.
The letter to the Romans was written by the Apostle Paul to the Church at Rome.
If I were to choose a key verse that captures everything Paul wanted the Christians at Rome (and us) to know it would be this: “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes – the Jew first and also the Gentile.” Romans 1:16
The audience to whom Paul wrote was a mixture of people of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. It is generally accepted that most of the people in the congregation were Gentiles. Our text today reflects the ongoing tension between the places of law and works and grace and faith in salvation.
1. A defining moment is a point at which a person’s or a groups’ character is revealed. A defining moment tells who and what you are.
2. A defining moment may be a point at which a foundation is laid for all that will follow in one’s life.
The Ebola Virus outbreak has been a defining moment as well as a divisive moment for many of us.
For example Donald Trump has been on a bit of a rant since he learned that Nancy Whitebol and Dr. Kent Brantly were being flown home after contracting the Ebola Virus. His rants generally took this form: “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to faraway places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!” The moment Donald Trump tweeted those words we knew exactly how he feels about humanitarian worker and the way we care for our own. If it means personal risk one does indeed leave one’s own behind.
The second defining moment may be a point or an occurrence that determines all related events that follow. This can be for good or bad. Defining moments lay the foundation for what will follow in your life.
Winston Churchill said, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
Notice the difference in the defining moments the Ebola outbreak had in the lives of Donald Trump and Dr. Kent Brantly. Just a few days ago from his hospital room in Atlanta Dr. Brantly wrote, “I also want to extend my deep and sincere thanks to all of you who have been praying for my recovery as well as for Nancy and for the people of Liberia and West Africa.
“My wife Amber and I, along with our two children, did not move to Liberia for the specific purpose of fighting Ebola. We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him at ELWA Hospital.
“One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember every face and name.
“When I started feeling ill on that Wednesday morning, I immediately isolated myself until the test confirmed my diagnosis three days later. When the result was positive, I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding. God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him.” (NBCNews.com, Breaking News, 8/8/14)
When Dr. Brantly and his wife accepted God’s leading to serve in Liberia – that defining moment set the stage of what was to follow, even to the point of giving his life while caring for people dying of Ebola.
I have never met Donald Trump or Kent Brantly but the Ebola outbreak was a defining moment for both in revealing their character and will likely define who they will be and what they will do with their lives in the future.
That decision to follow Christ singularly sets the stage for the rest of a person’s life. The text today gives us insight into how we make our way to discovery and a making that decision.