This December I had the privilege of reading some of John Calvin’s sermons on the book of Ephesians. I felt as if I was re-converted after every sermon. I loved Calvin’s (correct) emphasis on the utter hopelessness of man and the extreme, deep grace of God in drawing us out of the pit of hell and giving us new life. I was challenged by Calvin’s regular reminders to ask God to make me perceive my sins more, to throw myself once again on the mercy of Christ, to hate my sin more, and to aim more at holiness out of an abiding sense of profound gratitude to a good, majestic God.
King Manasseh is a conundrum. He was the most evil king Judah ever had and yet he was the longest reigning king. (cf. 2 Chronicles 33) In the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles every king’s life is summed up either by, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” or “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” No matter what the king’s military gains, political accomplishments, feats of bravery or economic successes, in the end it boiled down to this one thing.
I’m sure you know of the couple who woke up one Sunday morning and the wife said to her husband, “Get up or you will be late for church!” Her husband replied, “I really don’t feel like going to church and I don’t like the church people that much anyway. Give me 3 reasons why I should go this morning.” The wife responded, “Number 1: Church is beneficial because your hear God’s Word. Number 2: The people at church actually care for you. 3. And number 3: You’re the pastor!”
It sounds like that church may not be the spiritually healthiest church around – at least not the minister! Of course we should not expect perfect churches because churches are made up of sinful people. We are forgiven, but not sinless. God doesn’t call Christians and churches to perfection, but he does call us to make progress.
The typical leadership conference claims to enable you to be a successful leader with all the added benefits of wealth and prosperity – if you would faithfully follow the “guaranteed-to-work” principles. The Apostle Paul also gave us some leadership principles. The letter of 1 Corinthians in the Bible is not a leadership manual but rather personal correspondence encouraging the church to apply the gospel to every area of their lives. Yet, in the closing few paragraphs in his letter to the Corinthian church (chapter 16) the Apostle Paul makes some personal comments from which we may gain insight into Paul’s priorities and leadership style.