Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sermon-9/w/07--Preserving the Vision for Victory

The passage of time kills many dreams. But not always.

In one household their evening started just like most others. Mom and Dad at home with their son, Jimmy playing after dinner. Mom and Dad were absorbed with jobs and did not notice the time. It was a full moon and some of the light seeped through the windows. Finally, Mom glanced at the clock. "Jimmy, it's time to go to bed. Go up now and I'll come and settle you later."

Unlike usual, Jimmy went straight upstairs to his room. An hour or so later his mother came up to check if all was well, and to her astonishment found that her son was staring quietly out of his window at the moonlit scenery. "What are you doing, Jimmy?" "I'm looking at the moon, Mommy." "Well, it's time to go to bed now." As one reluctant boy settled down, he said, "Mommy, you know one day I'm going to walk on the moon."

Who could have known that the boy in whom the dream was planted that night would survive a near fatal motorbike crash which broke almost every bone in his body, and would bring to fruition this dream 32 years later when James Irwin stepped on the moon's surface, just one of the 12 representatives of the human race to have done so?

A Dream or a Vision is hard to maintain—every once in a while you hear an account like this that reminds you how it is possible. I know that after just a few minutes of being awake, most of my dreams are forgotten. As we’ve been looking at the life of Joshua and the Vision God had given him of the Victory that was to be had—I’m beginning to understand that Vision is something that must be held on to, must not be forgotten, must be anticipated in order to be seen and come to pass—because it is so easily lost and forgotten.

Bob Logan--Vision: the capacity to create a compelling picture of the desired state of affairs that inspires people to respond; that which is desirable, which could be, should be; that which is attainable. A godly vision is right for the times, right for the church, and right for the people. A godly vision promotes faith rather than fear. A godly vision motivates people to action. A godly vision requires risk-taking. A godly vision glorifies God, not people.

George Barna--Vision is the ability to understand the history, the present condition, and the potential of the church, and to conceive a plan for action that will maximize the ministry potential. More often than not, vision is a result of having spent much time absorbing the facts about the community, knowing the resources upon which the church can call (people, funding, facilities, equipment, etc.), and devising sound but creative strategies for moving forward. Vision always entails progress: it is never satisfied with the status quo. , How to Find Your Church, p. 104.

In Joshua 14 Israel had been in the Promised Land from between 5-7 years. They had already seen some major battles—the fulfillment of God’s Promise was well on its way. They had fought a Southern Campaign and a Northern Campaign—they had defeated many cities and their kings. While there were still battles in front of them, they were now at the point when they could start considering actually settling the territory. So here in Joshua 14, they began to divide the territory by tribe using lots—it was considered their inheritance.

But the Dream and Vision was not Over. One of the first ones to speak up had been waiting a long time. The dream, the vision for Israel… he’d been waiting to see it fulfilled just as much as Joshua had. In fact, he was the only one who had been waiting as long as Joshua. Caleb also was allowed to live long enough to see God fulfill His promises.

Their partnership had begun when Moses had sent them with 10 other men to spy out the land of Canaan some 45 years earlier.

1. Caleb’s Life of Vision—vs. 6-9

a. 40 years old when he saw how good the land was.

b. He reported “according to [his] convictions”—a report that only Joshua shared, but 10 others spoke against. Caleb believed and looked at what God could do and not at what the rest were so afraid of—the cities, the people. The 10 saw themselves as grasshoppers, while Joshua and Caleb saw themselves as God’s Chosen People.

c. This is just a reminder that it is so important to Live according to your convictions—even when everyone else around you says you’re a fool—when you are given a vision from God—speak, live and do not be afraid to stand for your convictions. But not just any conviction is worth standing for—it is the relationship with God and the vision He gives that is worth standing for.

d. Follow the Lord Wholeheartedly—that is a testimony of a life well lived. No matter what happened to Caleb, no matter what difficulties he faced, he was willing to follow the LORD wholeheartedly—fully, completely.

e. There is Blessing in a Life Lived for God—because of his faithfulness, Moses promised Caleb a special inheritance. It is because of his faithfulness that he was going to receive a blessing.

f. It is important for you and me to Never Lose sight of the Vision God gives despite what anyone else says. If we wish to receive a great blessing and a great victory—we must stand with our convictions and follow the LORD wholeheartedly in order to see that vision come to fruition.

2. Preserving the Vision of Victory—vs. 10

a. 45 years later, Caleb is now 85 years old

b. It’s a long time to wait for something

c. It’s a long time to easily forget something

d. It’s a long time for passion or energy to fade

e. 45 years is a long time for doubt to set in

f. Can you imagine waiting 45 years for something?

g. The Federal Government has processed your Tax Return and we’re pleased to let you know that you will begin receiving your return no later, but no earlier than 2052.

h. “Son, I know I promised that when you got your driver’s license—I’d buy you a car—well, how about I combine that promise with your 60th Birthday Present?”

i. I can hear one of the college guys now—“whoo hoo, I just got engaged! Right now we’re taking it slow—but we’re looking at a date in 2052—do you think the church will be available then?

j. Vs. 11-12—Caleb is now 85 years old—these are not the words of someone who has forgotten. This is not someone who has lost his passion, who has doubted all these years. He has successfully Preserved the Vision for Victory after all these years.

k. What’s amazing about this in Caleb’s life is that in a time when we would be looking at hanging it up—Caleb is looking to start something newto see completely the fulfillment of the Promise. He believed he would live to see it. He is still strong—still vigorous and ready for battle. He’s not ready to quit.

l. How would you feel about starting a challenge like this at the age of 85?

m. Now before you start thinking that kind of stuff doesn’t happen anymore, listen to this.

n. Lifetime jogger, John Farrell, began taking to the road to warm up for the 13th World Veterans' Athletics Championships opening in England. A retired gas meter reader, Mr Farrell is one of Britain's oldest athletes and has entered for the 800, 1,500 and 5,000-metre races. –age 90

o. Zionsville, Indiana resident Mary Miller is one of the strongest 65-year-old women in the world. The petite grandmother of five set a world record in the bench press for her age and weight class, lifting 115.5 pounds in a World Association of Bench Pressers and Deadlifters competition in Lansing, Mich., last month. The previous record was 95 pounds. She's now gearing up for the world championships in Anaheim, Calif., in November, where she hopes to hoist up 120 pounds. She did not begin weight training until after age 50.

ALPINE, Texas - Mike Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. Flynt's position is still being determined, but he used to play linebacker. Wherever he lines up, he'll likely become the oldest player in college football history. Neither the NCAA or NAIA keeps such a statistic, but research hasn't turned up anyone older than their mid-40s. And even those are rare, for obvious reasons. A devout Christian, Flynt sees many religious undertones to his story.

History records that many people made some of their greatest contributions to society after the age of 65. The Earl of Halsburg, for example, was 90 when he began preparing a 20- volume revision of English law. Goethe wrote Faust at 82. Galileo made his greatest discovery when he was 73. At 69, Hudson Taylor was still vigorously working on the mission field, opening up new territories in Indochina.

At 85 Caleb was holding on to the Vision that God had given him. I love Caleb’s speech.

1. I am still strong—I am just as ready to do what God has called us to do—don’t discount me b/c I’m old—don’t you think for a moment that I want to kick back and take it easy. Time has not weakened my resolve—doubt has not crept in. Age hasn’t in any way diminished my heart’s desire to Follow the LORD my God wholeheartedly.

I am finally getting to see God do what I always knew He would do and I want to be a part of it—you cannot hold me back. I’m jus as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.

In fact—whatever is the tough job—I want it. Whatever task is making all these young whippersnappers quake in their boots, whatever battle they are avoiding—give it to me—I’ll show them what a heart devoted to God to do—I’ll show them—give me the high country!

I don’t care what giants are before me, I’m not interested in avoidance and excuses. Don’t tell me we can’t whip the Anakites with their large and fortified cities, I’ve seen the walls of Jericho fall—but before than—I saw the Red Sea part, I saw Egypt bow to my Almighty God. Give me the High country—with the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as He said!

2. That is vision—after 45 years of waiting—Caleb’s dream had not faded—his vision for what God was going to do was still clear in his mind—and he wanted to see it happen—he wanted to be a part of bringing it to pass.

3. have you given up hope of seeing a vision of God fulfilled?

4. His Strength was not based on his own body—but upon the strength of God. His vigor came from the empowerment of God and the hope of seeing him glorified. His readiness for battle didn’t come because he loves fighting, but b/c he knew the Battle Belonged to the Lord.

5. Our strength and courage cannot come from within ourselves, it must come from God. He is our strength, He is our power. Today we don’t even have to fight the same kind of battle Caleb did—our struggle, our fight is not against flesh and blood—the lost are not the enemy—it is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

6. We should be just as ready and eager as Caleb to enter into this battle—even moreso—b/c it’s not about killing people, but about Saving them. Our battle today is not about destroying, but about bringing to life. That is the kind of battle I want to be a part of, the kind worth giving my life for.

7. That is the kind of Dream, the kind of Vision that we need to sustain no matter how long it takes—the Lost coming to a saving relationship with Jesus, our Worship truly leading us into the Presence of Almighty God. Our lives and our testimonies truly giving all glory and honor and praise to Almighty God.

8. That is part of my dream for UBC. And I want to have the same kind of Steadfastness to that Vision that Caleb had. I hope you have a dream for UBC. I trust that God given you a vision of what He wants to do in you and through this church and I hope you won’t let me forget.

9. Some of you have been here from almost the beginning. Has your dream and vision faded over the years? If you are older and you have faith, your heart is wholeheartedly devoted to God—you can be an inspiration to those younger. If I or they are hesitant to do the things of God—beat down the door to show em how it’s done.

Don’t look at the Setbacks or the Obstacles—Remember the Promise

Don’t Look at the Delay or the Wait—Anticipate the Outcome

Don’t Give Up Thinking the Fulfillment has Passed You By—God Never Retires

saying, “Not in My Lifetime”

Don’t Pass Off the Vision and miss the Blessing

Let Someone Else Do it for You or Take your Place

I’m too Old, let the Younger ones do it

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