Sunday, October 21, 2018:
Isaiah 43:1-7, Psalm 105, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12, John 9:1-12:
In the Middle Ages, it was said that three masons were hired to build a cathedral. Each of these three people came with a hammer and chisel every morning and arrived at the hot, sunny church yard to shape the marble every day and sweat. One day, an archbishop visited the construction site and asked each of the masons who worked with sweat to do what they were doing, the answer was different from each person. The first mason complained, with a sickly face, “I am doing this hard work because I need to survive. I have to carry and move heavy stones. I have to hit each stone with this big heavy hammer a few thousand times each day. Look at my hand. I only get blisters and cuts for my work.” The second mason, in a flat tone, responded: “I do not have any talent, but I have to continue this hard labor to make money to support my family.” Even though he did not complain about the work he was doing, he did not feel the work made him happy or rewarded. The third mason had a peaceful look and replied proudly, “Yes, I am carving each marble to show the glory of God. It is truly a wonderful opportunity to work together with fellow masons to build a church for the Lord.” This mason is someone who is proud and satisfied with the work that he does. (1) These three people worked at the same time, same place, same climatic conditions, and same pay. In your opinion, who would have been the most respectable, detailed, and worthy mason to build a beautiful church? Who would have brought value, enjoyment, and confidence to what they do and who would have felt a sense of fulfillment each time they saw the completed church? The Isaiah prophet says in Isaiah 43:1-7 in the Old Testament spoken today: “But now, says the Lord – the one who created you, Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” (:1) “Bring my sons from far away, and my daughter from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name and whom I created for my glory, whom I have formed and made.” (:6b-7) * God who created the world wants us to fellowship, to love us as children, and be glorified through people like us. However, many people live without knowing where they come from, where they are going, and what they should live for. They do not desire to find the purpose of life, but their lives continue to push forward. They go to college, graduate from school, get a job, get married, have children, watch their children grow up, become middle-aged, look after their parents and grow old themselves. * The prophet Isaiah says that each of us is created for the glory of God. * Because we are created for the glory of God, we must think about how God should be glorified in what we are now doing. * Is God glorified through what I am doing now? In my plans and intentions? * Is God now glorified through the lifestyle I live? * Do you feel God’s love through your work, your children, your spouse, your relatives, your friends? The famous composer, Johann Sebastian Bach had once said, “All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered, there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub.” At the top of his compositions, Bach would sign his compositions with “J.S.B.” for his initials, followed by “J.J.” “Jesus Juva”, which means “Jesus help me”; and he would always end them with “S.D.G.”, meaning “Soli Deo Gloria”, which means “for God’s glory alone.” (2) There were five principles amongst the Christians of the Middle Ages, namely, the fathers and theologians, the Reformers, and the philosophers. We call it ‘Five solae of the protestant reformation’.
Sola Scriptura – by Scripture alone
Sola Fide – by faith alone
Sola Gratia – by grace alone
Solus Christus – Christ alone or through Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria – glory to God alone
In the New Testament, John 9:1-12, we read this interesting passage: When Jesus was on his way, he saw a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him.” It is our Christian duty to show God’s work through our daily efforts and to demonstrate the true glory of God no matter what our circumstances. We should not focus on the medical and theoretical questions of why we may be blind, but we must focus on how we express God’s work given the situation. We should pray not to blame the environment, to blame our parents, and only within the conditions given to us, but to understand how we should glorify God in all situations. Though some circumstances might seem unreasonable from the Lord, you will be blessed if you obey. Jesus spit on the clay and applied it to the eyes of the blind man, saying, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ This sort of treatment is not one we accept in Western medicine. But in Jesus’ words, those who obey God’s command are blessed. Amen?
In 1715, Louis XIV of France died. Louis, who called himself “the Great,” was the monarch who made the infamous statement “I am the State!” His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was spectacular. His body lay in a golden coffin. To dramatize the deceased king’s greatness, orders had been given that the cathedral should be very dimly lit, with only one special candle set above his coffin. Thousands waited in hushed silence. Then Bishop Massilon began to speak. Slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle, saying, “Only God is great!” (3)
As the prophet of Isaiah says, we must realize that God is the potter who owns us and that we are clay. (Isaiah 64:8) It is truly a Christian calling not to brag about who I am or what I am, but to confess that all this is by ‘the grace of God.’ We want to be Christians who glorify God and bring joy to people through our talents and the overcoming of our weaknesses. If you look at Thessalonians 1: 3-12, I do not think the circumstances of the Thessalonian church were the best of environments. The members suffered many persecutions and misfortunes, but the Apostle Paul said that he was comforted by their patience and faith. Paul says that according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, the name of our Lord Jesus is glorified among you and that you also have the glory in him. In other words, God is the one who, when we work for His glory, encompasses us with His glory. So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you should do it all for God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Each day, I pray to have the strength to please everyone in everything I do. I pray that I do not do anything for my own advantage, but for everyone around me so that they may also be saved. One sleepless night, I could hear a conversation on the wall from the dark. As I listened to it, I heard the conversation from the clock on the wall, “Click, click”. The needle pointing to each second spoke to the minute hand and hour hand. “How lucky are you that you can move slower than I? I do not have the spirit to tick along every single minute. Guys.” The minute hand picks up and talks. “I wish I could turn slowly like the hour hand.” “How good would it be if I was as active as you are?” said the hour hand, annoyed. The nail behind the clock chimed in: “You move, I do not even know I’m holding you heavy in the dark, day and night. Although my feet are rotting from the end … ” “But, we work together daily to tell the family members of this house the exact time, and that’s enough. “(4)
We want to be a mason who glorifies God, rather than a King like Louis the 14th, who wants a fanfare even after his death. Like Bach, I would like to write music with Jesus’ help and give praise and glory to God with each note. We want to be satisfied with God in just being – no matter what speed each one of us rushes to, or what position we are in. I want to be a person who finds something that pleases God, even though I may have less than a man who has the pride of having everything. I hope that through our efforts, God will be glorified, and as Christians, we can bring joy to many people in this world.*