Saturday, 30 August 2014

Sermon: Examples To All

We all have times in our lives when we need an example to follow. When we are children, it is usually a character in a book or a super hero off the TV. In my youth it was reading the books of Paul brickhill, such as The Great Escape and Reach for The Sky that I found a lot of my hero’s and examples of heroic acts and leadership.

As we move forward in our experiences of life new exemplars of life emerge more lasting and more close to hand.  My father, my elder brother, and as I moved forward and found my faith I developed a strong love of characters in scripture. Characters like Moses, Abraham, David, Nephi, Helaman, and Captain Moroni.

In first Peter verse 21 it reds “For even hereunto were ye called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” 

The story of Joseph beginning in Genesis 37 is so very powerful. The Prophet had a pretty tough life. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. His father was told that he was killed by a wild animal. He was framed by his boss’s wife because he refused to sleep with her and was thrown into prison. He interpreted the dream of a prisoner who was released and restored to his position, but the guy forgot about him. In the end, though, Joseph became the leader of all Egypt–second only to the Pharaoh himself. When there is a famine, he is then able to save his family from starvation. He tells his brothers when he sees them again that, though they meant harm, God orchestrated the events to put Joseph in a position to save them. Leaders have a vision that sustains them through difficult times.

Great leaders rule by example rather than command as is the case many times in the scriptures. In Joshua 24, after leading his people into a new land, Joshua offers the Israelites the option to either A:- serve the God who they had always served, the one who had brought them into the land or B:- serve the gods of the surrounding lands. “But as for me and my house,” he says, “We will serve the Lord.” The people answer in unison that they will pledge their allegiance to God. Because they believe in Joshua’s leadership, they follow Joshua’s example. He doesn’t have to threaten them; he merely inspires them by his example.

When we are doing what the Lord requires of us born out of knowledge acquired by study, we too can be an inspiration to others. We must separate ourselves from the worldly enticements around us as we see from the example of the early life of Daniel. In Daniel chapter one, we find that Daniel and his three young friends remained true to their God despite being taken captive and subjected to pagan beliefs and practices. They were strangers in a foreign land who found themselves separated from their families and friends. They had every opportunity to begin enjoying the sinful, worldly attractions and entertainment that surrounded them in the land of Babylon, for there were no Godly adults to tell them what to do or what to refrain from doing. Yet they refused to defile themselves with the pleasures, foods and amusements of the pagan Babylonian lifestyle. Why? Because their convictions were their own. Other young Israelites were also taken captive, but they gave in to the pressures to conform to the wicked Babylonian lifestyle. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did what was right because they were young people with personal conviction. God rewarded them for their separation from the world. Their behaviour and lifestyle remained exemplary throughout their captivity. We need to remember this account of Daniel and his three friends when it seems as though it is impossible for us to be different from the world or even from fellow Christians who are following the world.

In the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ Amen
Elder Philip A. Gill

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