Sermons

Summary: When we face trials in our lives, do we complain or do we trust that God will help us through?

Did you hear of the man who was dyslexic, agnostic and an insomniac? Yes, he stays awake all night long wondering if there really is a “Dog.”

Michael Josephson, the founder of the “Josephson Institute of Ethics” in Southern California writes about an old legend that tells of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker over who should do various chores. On the third day they met another monk who was also going to the monastery, and he joined their party. This monk never complained or shirked a duty, and whenever the others fought over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer and simply do it himself. By the last day the other monks were following his example, and they worked together smoothly.

When they reached the monastery and asked to see Brother Leo, the man who greeted them laughed: "But our brother is among you!" And he pointed to the fellow who had joined them late in the trip.

Today, many people seek leadership positions not so much for what they can do for others, but for what the position can do for them: status, connections, perks or future advantage. As a result, they serve primarily as an investment, a way to build an impressive resume.

The parable about Brother Leo teaches another model of leadership, where leaders are preoccupied with serving rather than being followed, with giving rather than getting, and doing rather than demanding. It`s a form of leadership based on example, not command. It`s called servant leadership.

Can you imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, educators and business executives saw themselves as servant leaders.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

In listing these gifts, Paul accomplishes two purposes. First he told how wonderful it is to be a Christian. Our justification is not simply a guarantee of heaven, as thrilling as that is, but it is also the source of tremendous blessings that we enjoy here and now. What does justified mean? Justification has to do with our standing with God. It’s when God looks at us and says, “Not guilty, by the blood of Jesus”. A simpler meaning that I like is “Justified” – “Just if I’d never sinned.”

His second purpose was to assure his readers that justification is a lasting thing. Jewish readers in particular would ask, “Can this spiritual experience last if it does not require obedience to the Law?” What about the trials and sufferings of life?

When God declared us righteous in Jesus Christ, He gave to us four spiritual blessings that assure us that we cannot be lost. The unsaved person is at “enmity” with God because they cannot obey God’s Law or fulfill His will. Enmity is a state of deep seated ill will.

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Think about that. There is nothing we can do more to earn God’s love and nothing we can do less that would take that away. We have peace with God. God loves us just the way we are. Why make it complicated? Why doubt that?

We have access to God: In Jewish history people were kept from God’s presence by the veil in the temple. Only the High Priest was allowed access to the Holy of Holies. But when Jesus died, He tore the veil and broke down the wall. When God first appeared to the wandering Israelites, He came in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night. God’s Glory filled the Tabernacle, the movable Temple. So if people desired to be close to God, they needed to be close to the Tabernacle. When the Temple in Jerusalem was built in its splendor, God’s Glory filled the Temple. So if people wanted to be close to God, they needed to make a pilgrimage to be present in the Temple. When Jesus Christ walked this earth, the Glory of God filled His Body. After all, He was the Son of God. So if people desired to be close to God, they needed to be present wherever Jesus was. He became the walking Temple of God. And after the Temple veil was torn in two, we now had direct access to God through Christ Jesus. After the resurrection of Jesus, in Acts chapter 2, Luke writes that those gathered in the upper room were filled with the Holy Spirit of God. And the same is true for us today when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We have direct access to God because our bodies are now the Holy Temple of God. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, The Apostle Paul writes; “Do you not know that you are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells within you?”

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