Between the Words ... Pastor Jim’s Perspectives on the Weekend Behind and the Week Yet to Come (January 5, 2020)

By Jim Garrett

January 6, 2020

2020 Vision- Understand the Vision

Proverbs 29:18– (p. 1028)- “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”

Habukkuk 2:2- (p. 1458)- “Then the Lord replied:

Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.’”

 

Sermon Blurb: Some things are motivated by pure whim; others by such outside forces as tradition. Of course, there are moments that pure whim is exciting and energizing – and other moments directed by tradition which are fueled by those things that have been laid out by others before you. But the best way to serve God is to seek His will and purpose and to cooperate with His plan and to pursue it.

We now explore the direction God has given us at OCF with our series of messages, “2020 Vision”, and — we discover the vision He has given us to following Jesus.

Life Principle: The most exciting thing we can do in following Christ is to seek His purpose, to set it forth as His vision before us, and to run with that vision.

Introduction: Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California, once said: “So you as a leader and as a pastor must have God’s vision for your church. The very first task of leadership is to set the vision for the organization. If you don’t set the vision, you’re not the leader. Whoever is establishing the vision in your church is the leader of that particular church. A church will never outgrow its vision and the vision of a church will never outgrow the vision of the pastor.

Tradition is a good thing – maybe even a great thing in certain circumstances.

Life Principle: The most exciting thing we can do in following Christ is to seek His purpose, to set it forth as His vision before us, and to run with that vision.

But is tradition enough to base a future practice of the church upon?

We must understand that traditions can be quite healthy.

Even as the video clip showed, tradition is capable of providing a “balance” in our systems and to our existence.

But in order for tradition to be and to remain healthy, there must be an understanding of the “why” of tradition. Why do we do it this way?

Illustration:

  • Many of us have heard the familiar story about the new bride who is cooking a big family dinner. As the ladies are gathered in the kitchen, the bride puts the roast in the pan and asks her mother why we always cut the end of the roast and put it in another pan? They ask grandma who says, “well honey, I cut the end off of the roast and put it in another pan because my roasting pan was too small!”

There are several variations of that story.

  • In one variation a young bride puts a pan of water in the oven every time she bakes a cake. She figured that this somehow added moisture to the cake. On one occasion her mother is visiting and asks, “why do you put a pan of water in the oven to bake a cake?” The bride replied, “well mom, that’s the way you always did it.” “Yes,” the mother replied, “but that’s because my oven racks were uneven and the pan of water caused the racks to balance out.”
  • In another variation, a young bride is thawing the turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. She puts the bird in the sink and covers it with a dishpan. “Mom, what is the purpose for putting a dishpan on top of the turkey to thaw?” “Sweetie, I put a dishpan on top of the turkey because we had cats.”
  • Finally, from “humor in uniform” comes the story of the young Seabee electrician who was electrocuted from working on a live fixture. The Master Sergeant visited him in the infirmary and chewed him out. “What made you think you could work on a live fixture?” The apprentice replied, “Sir, I was trying to save time and I’ve seen you stand on one leg, grab the wires and splice them without turning off the power. ” The Master Sergeant replied, “You dummy – didn’t you notice that I’ve got a wooden leg?”

Another wrote: Traditions are often group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening.

Illustration:

WHERE THE PHARISEES WENT WRONG

Robert Coleman tells where the Pharisees went wrong: “The Pharisees had so much respect for the Scriptures and wanted to protect them so desperately that they started adding to them. Many called this act, “building a hedge.” Then, after a while, it not only seemed helpful to make additions but it seemed absolutely essential. For instance, if God said we couldn’t work on the Sabbath, then don’t even pick grain to eat — just to play it safe. Don’t even heal people because that might be a borderline case. These traditions and additions to Scripture accumulated into hundreds over the years. Soon, it became apparent that they were far from optional. These laws became every inch as important as the scriptural laws and, in some instances, more crucial. The Pharisees also saw their mission as creating new laws as the times changed. If they felt the Scriptures contained no moral laws to control something modern, then they would manufacture a law and announce that it was binding on man and God. New situations could not be ignored, and if there were gaps in the Scriptures, someone had to fill them. Jesus found it very difficult to appreciate anyone changing God’s laws. For Him, it was fine if the Pharisees wanted to fast twice a week. They could go to it with great pleasure. The flak came when they said, “We instituted this new law, and God expects you to keep it.” At this point, Jesus balked and told them to back off.”

Remember, Tradition is NOT a bad thing. Friends, Tradition is NOT necessarily a bad thing.

Illustration: J.I. Packer once wrote, “All Christians are at once beneficiaries and victims of tradition—beneficiaries, who receive nurturing truth and wisdom from God’s faithfulness in past generations; victims, who now take for granted things that need to be questioned, thus treating as divine absolutes patterns of belief and behavior that should be seen as human, provisional, and relative. We are all beneficiaries of good, wise, and sound tradition and victims of poor, unwise, and unsound traditions.”

But, instead of simply relying on tradition, we must seek God for the vision He has for us.

The question we must always be asking is: Where is God taking us?

In order to succeed at what we set out for, we must have a clear understanding of what God’s purpose and plan for us is. Where is God taking us?

And so, there must be a clarity and a knowing of that vision.

Habakkuk 2:2- “Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.’”

Sit with the Word of God, prayer, and a notepad.

The Pastors and the Elders must sit at the feet of God listening to Him for His vision for our church.

While sitting at God’s feet, the Pastors and Elders must have their Bibles open and their spiritual, prayer antennae up and in receiving positions.

Then, they are required to write that vision or revelation down.

Finally, they are required to “run with it – to proclaim it – to make it known – to get the Word out.

And there must be such conviction upon the Pastors and the Elders – and the congregation — that each can positively answer these questions:

Would you be so committed to God’s vision that you are willing to give your life for it? That’s vision.

Would you be so committed to God’s vision that you are willing to give your life savings for it? That’s a vision.

Would you be so committed to the vision that you are willing to say, “Though none go with me, still I will follow”? That’s vision.

And each leader who receives this vision should be just as committed to the vision as the people with whom they share God’s vision.

Illustration: Although it’s not popular to talk about around here after last Saturday night’s football game, the county where Cheri and I are both from contains a SC state university named Clemson University. (When my dad attended there in the 1950s, it was simply called Clemson College. And, as a tidbit of trivia, if you’re from there, you probably pronounce it with a “p” in the middle—like “Clempson – although there is certainly no “p” in its spelling.) The football team has a slogan that we believe is attributed to Coach Dabo Swinney himself. It simply says, “All in.” What is meant by that is “we’re all in—nothing left out, nothing held back—we’re ALL IN. Further, it means that no one stands alone—we’re ALL in.”

I think that’s a good image for the vision for the local church—We’re ALL IN—Nothing Held Back—and we’re ALL in—no one stands alone.”

And why do we need a vision?

Life Principle: The most exciting thing we can do in following Christ is to seek His purpose, to set it forth as His vision before us, and to run with that vision.

“Among God’s people, Vision encourages unity, creates energy, provides purpose, fosters risk-taking, enhances leadership, promotes excellence, and sustains ministry.” –Aubrey Malphurs

Vision also gives us boundaries to work within.

Proverbs 29:18- “Where there is no revelation (vision), people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”

And, by the way, it’s OK if much of our church’s vision is similar to that of other churches.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.”

When we present the vision God has given us, we must communicate the vision in a plain, clear, and understandable way.

Habakkuk 2:2- “Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.’”

(several versions make this even clearer with something like: “And inscribe it plainly or clearly on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.”)

One of the things the NT brings us is the thought of hearing and trusting in the leadership God has placed over His church.

Hebrews 13: 15-18- “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

In other words, these leaders are shepherds giving watch and care of God’s people.

John 10:11-13- [Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

I want us to clearly notice the initial words of this passage: All of this happens THROUGH JESUS – only THROUGH Jesus.

All offerings of sacrifices and praise are ONLY enabled through Jesus. (In other words, we cannot offer sacrifices and praise alone.)

In fact, these sacrifices and offerings ON OUR PART are a fruit we manifest and present because of the work Christ does through us – or worded another way — that we do through Him.

All good deeds and sharing with others are acts of the sacrifices that God does through us and that we cooperate with.

And therefore, the confidence we show to our leaders IS ONLY POSSIBLE because of the cooperation we show THROUGH CHRIST.

Life Principle: The most exciting thing we can do in following Christ is to seek His purpose, to set it forth as His vision before us, and to run with that vision.

Our confidence in our leaders is only through Christ.

And of course, our leaders are responsible to give full account TO Christ.

In other words, we give confidence IN our leaders THROUGH CHRIST – who in turn give account TO CHRIST.

It is the responsibility of the leadership in the church to seek the vision for the church through God—to hear and know that perfect will and vision of God for the church — to “catch His Vision for His church”.

Such was the case for Moses.

Numbers 12:7 (NIV)- “… my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.”

Moses was required by God to seek His (God’s) direction for His (God’s) people.

Although we who are in relationship with God are all capable to hear and know His plan for our lives and the lives of our family, God is specifically referring to the capturing of His (God’s) vision for His corporate people.

Note that this is not a positioning of Moses, AS A PERSON, as having any greater or better status AS A PERSON than others in the land.

Moses was no better than anyone else.

It is, however, pointing to a designated and God-appointed position OF AUTHORITY as being a spokesperson FOR GOD to His corporate people.

God was then to speak to Moses, FACE TO FACE in order to communicate clearly His Words, His thoughts, and His directions, especially as that communication concerned the people of the land.

And as God communicated to Moses (in order to communicate to His people), He also equipped Moses even beyond His capabilities and education.

When God calls you to a task, He also equips you to service that task.

One person said it this way: “God equips those whom He calls.”

AS we the leaders have received the vision you are being presented with over the next few weeks, it is up to us, under God’s empowerment, to communicate that vision clearly to you—even to write it down legibly and to keep it before you, the congregation of OCF.

Life Principle: The most exciting thing we can do in following Christ is to seek His purpose, to set it forth as His vision before us, and to run with that vision.

Finally, it is up to us, the congregation of OCF, to run with the vision.

Therefore, we must, then, run with the vision – tell it, share it, communicate it, and do it.

It is the responsibility of the hearer, the herald, the runner, the ambassador – to run with the vision

In running with it, we are to carry it out

We are to perform it.

We are to broadcast the vision.

We are to assure that the vision is further faithfully communicated among ourselves.

But we are also to note that the empowerment to “run with it” is not our own empowerment; it is purposed to us through Jesus Himself.

We cannot “work up” this empowerment.

We cannot “study up” on this subject and see it worked out.

We can only wait on Him and His timing to run with His vision.

Isaiah 40:28-31-“ Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

And we must be careful to Give God alone the Glory.

Life Principle: The most exciting thing we can do in following Christ is to seek His purpose, to set it forth as His vision before us, and to run with that vision.

Conclusion:

  • This is the simple iteration of the vision God is giving us here at OCF.
  • It is brought to us through the Pastors and the Leadership Team and presented for each of us to put our trust in God so that we will carry out His mission among us.
  • It is up to Him to empower each of us to receive this task and to carry it out.
  • It is up to us to cooperate with what God desires to do and is doing among us.

Here are the specifics of what God is speaking to us as His purpose among us at OCF:

  • The Bible and specifically, the Gospel, is to be at the Center of our preaching and teaching
    • Grace is also a significant and important part of the center of our teaching and preaching
  • We are to build the Community God has placed us in and surrounded us with
    • A loving fellowship enacting Living Worship
    • We are currently in the midst of a surrounding community that thinks we are the church that is the polling station when its time to vote. We want to extend/enhance that perception
  • We are to take a deeper refocus and enactment of Evangelism
    • We are to broaden/enlarge our constituency with the Great Commission through Compassionate Outreach
    • We are to bolster and enhance OCF’s Missions efforts – both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and among the uttermost parts of the world.
    • We are to intentionally focus on becoming more of a sending church—sending out teachers, pastors, and missionaries
  • We are to focus on being a house of Discipleship
    • Growing, challenging faith
    • Spiritual Warfare- Not fighting the personalities in and among us but knowing that our conflicts come through the spiritual realms and then, fighting against those principalities and powers while protecting those blessed brothers and sisters among us.
    • We MUST learn to Celebrate our wins
      • Increase in Baptism
      • Increase in Communions
      • Increased and better communication for ALL our wins
    • We are to be a house of Prayer through an Increased emphasis on and practice of prayer throughout the entire church.
    • We are to make efforts toward becoming a house of genuine Worship
      • Music
      • Gifts, arts, and talents
      • Deeds

These items will be more clearly defined over the next few weeks and it is my desire that each of you would be here and listen to and buy into what God is setting before us.

Life Action Steps:

  • Be willing to give your life for God’s vision. That’s owning His vision
  • Be willing to say, “Though none go with me, still I will follow and His vision”? That’s owning His vision
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