Grace Christian Church - LeRoy MN Grace Christian Church
115 E. Frederick, LeRoy MN 55951  (507) 219-1774
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The Glory of the Ordinary
This is the title sermon and #1 in the series of a number of messages that are all focused on the less remembered people in the Bible who are role models for all believers still today. 
Bible texts:  Exodus 3, Hebrews 10:36-12.3

Probably Garrison Keillor's most famous quote is, "Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

This amuses us... why? Isn't it because we all think that WE, ourselves and/or our kids, are actually above average. Yet it cannot be true that EVERYONE is above average.

Many years ago my Aunt Mary sent me a book with a title I have never forgotten... The Glory of the Ordinary. (Self published by Jack Exum, 1960) It was a book of lessons about how all people can make a difference in the world and in the heavenly kingdom to come.

There are many people in the Bible whose names are mentioned but we know very little about them. Why is that...? Because it was the "something they DID with their lives" that made enough difference to be briefly mentioned.

In this series I plan to look further into these scraps of info we do have. Why? Because those are the tidbits that could serve as a real-life model for somebody today. This is the start of a sermon series on "lesser known people" in the Bible.

Why should we study people rather than doctrines? Because God made all creatures with some degree of observation ability and some degree of curiosity. And that leads to imitation. THAT IS HOW ALL CREATURES LEARN. That is probably why videos are more popular with many people than books.

But for people, even more important simply observing others we also pay attention to their WORDS. Even when movies first came in, the silent pictures, there were always captions. I recently saw an interview with the late and famous producer of the longest running TV show... CBS's "60 Minutes." I was amazed when he told that for him all the years in the cutting room getting ready for the show, his main focus was listening to the words of the story being told... not the pictures.

The Greeks at the peak of their intellectual reign developed a concept of the divine and called it simply, word.. logos. The Apostle John took that idea of an all knowing and all powerful "word" and declared the actual person who WAS that WORD was Jesus whom he personally saw and knew. John 1:1-14 In beginning was the Word who made all things... and the Word became flesh and we beheld his glory, glory as the only-begotten of the Father.

Not everybody cares very much about reading printed words. But even they will notice people whose lives are affected by the WORD described in "the book".

What is the glory in the 'glory of the ordinary'? It is the full story of any person's life, not just the obvious or superficial. When any person lives a life of self-discipline, a life that stays focused on eternal truth, that is a 'glory' for all to behold. And all do see and notice, even if they say little to show it.

And what is the ordinary in the 'glory of the ordinary'? Most of the people mentioned in the Bible were not the great heroes or "important" characters in all history. It was about regular, non-important people... who never-the-less lived their lives well, by faith. Quite a few of them were not even named... Who were the 3 kings from the East? Do we know the names of any shepherds?

Our scripture passage from Genesis is the account of Moses... NOT at the height of his life, but at his lowest point, an exiled and wanted man.  Once he was top advisor to Egypt's Pharaoh, the world's most powerful and wealthy country at that time... now working a lowly job... way out in the boonies, a lowly shepherd working for his father-in-law, Jethro.

But it was at his "low point" that he came to his HOLY GROUND, his time for an encounter with God.  We read in Exodus 3:1-5, "One day, Moses was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and Moses decided to lead them across the desert to Sinai, the holy mountain. There an angel of the LORD appeared to him from a burning bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but it was not burning up. "This is strange!" he said to himself. " I'll go over and see why the bush isn't burning up." When the LORD saw Moses coming near the bush, he called him by name, and Moses answered, "Here I am."  God replied, " Don't come any closer. Take off your sandals--the ground where you are standing is holy.  I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Moses was afraid to look at God, and so he hid his face." 
There comes a time in most people's lives where we have our own kind of encounter with the reality of God and His pull on our lives.  Very often it comes not when we are "up" but more likely when we are  "down" -- just like Moses.

Hebrews chapters 11-12 is one of the most important passages in all the Bible...!
It is a section that every Bible needs to have marked in some way... highlighted, underlined, corner turned down, bookmarked.

More importantly... the theme of the passage needs to be branded into the heart and soul of every Christian... YOU DON'T HAVE TO 'BE A SOMEBODY'. . . TO BE SOME BODY TO GOD!

Hebrews 10:36-39... Learn to be patient, so that you will please God and be given what he has promised. As the Scriptures say, "God is coming soon! It won't be very long. he people God accepts will live because of their faith. But he isn't pleased with anyone who turns back." We are not like those people who turn back and get destroyed.  We will keep on having faith until we are saved.

And Hebrews 11:1-3... Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.  It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.  Because of our faith, we know that the world was made at God's command. We also know that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.

Jumping to Hebrews 12:1-3a... Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God's throne! So keep your mind on Jesus...

Throughout all history, regular and ordinary people have lived by faith, and to God THAT has been all that mattered.

What is ordinary?
It is simply what any of us can be... WHAT ALL OF US CAN BE!
What any of us actually is... just ordinary. In the sense that there is poured into every person the essence of God... the potential to live in harmony with him.

We have it all wrong whenever we compare ourselves to others and think we are "above average". Garrison Keillor with ironic humor and Charles Schultz's countless  cartoons showing the foibles of his little people (Peanuts)are probably the two most important Minnesota-based contributions to modern culture. Both have been giving us "ordinary folk" messages from their Bible-believing roots... lessons about the truths of life, truths we can all live by.

Everybody has 'pain' -- either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.