Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sermon--Choosing Blessing or Cursing--1-20-08

Here is the audio for this message:

Choosing Between Blessing & Cursing

I need you parents to fill in the blanks—

Clean up Your Room So…_________
Clean up Your Room Or…_________

Eat you dinner so __________
Eat your dinner Or __________

When we do this as parents—we are essentially laying out Good things or Bad things that can result from a child's choices. There is something that we, as the parent, want them to do and we lay out the consequences or benefits. But even with all the facts, many times, children still make a poor choice.

This is much the same in Scripture in reference to Blessings and Curses--
Choices have consequences—sometimes they have good outcomes, sometimes bad.

The last couple of weeks have been a contrast of a people living with NO Vision and a people living and being led by Vision. The contrast couldn’t be more striking
Review Nehemiah--CARD
Review—the Curses of No Vision

People Led by No Vision—Perish
• The Israelites under Nehemiah were defeated
• They were struggling
• They were under great “trouble & disgrace”
• Unable to fulfill their own dreams, much less God’s dreams
• They settled for the Mediocre
• They neglected the important things
• There was no confidence
• They lived in fear
• And yet were paralyzed to fix the real problems
• They were complacent in all things, especially their faithfulness to God
• Things suffered because there was no spark, there was no energy, nothing to rally behind
• Neglect, Indifference & Fear
• They saw all the tasks as too big
• They saw all the enemies as too powerful
• They saw all the efforts as not worth it
• They were more focused on their own problems
• They had the foundation of the Temple for years before they built upon it—and it all remained undefended for many more with no vision
Even the population in Jerusalem was much smaller than what it could have been—no one wanted to live there—in a place with no vision—no fire—no protection
Slowly—the hearts of this remnant—that God had preserved and brought back home after decades of captivity—were dying, shriveling up and they were unfruitful

No Vision was a curse that hung around their necks like a giant weight—it was a curse that entangled them, enslaved them and kept them from seeing what was right before them—the Opportunity and Glory of God. The Opportunities of God were passing right in front of them and it was because they had no vision that they were unwilling to take hold of them.

Contrast that existence to the energy and vision Nehemiah brought with him—and the difference it made

The Blessing of Vision

Where there is Vision—the people Live—not just a going through the motions kind of living but the abundant life that Jesus promised—a life of fulfilling God’s dreams and His purpose for the Kingdom. There is little more exciting in the world than knowing you are impacting eternity and the Kingdom of God.

• God’s Vision was a blessing because it helped them clearly see the problem
• The blessing of Vision rallied the people to a great cause—everybody participated, people who had passed by the problem for years came forward to encourage and work
• Vision’s Blessing gave them courage and strength to overcome all the Obstacles & Opposition

• Vision’s Blessing helped them accomplish great and wonderful things—the building of the wall in 52 days—but the greatest accomplishment in all of Nehemiah’s work, and all the people’s efforts was not the building of the wall, but the faith that gave glory to God and drew more and more back into that faithfulness.

Looking at this Contrast of the Curse of No Vision and the Blessing of Vision reminds me of the Choice to Live in Blessing or Cursing that is seen in Deuteronomy 27—

According to vs. 9—the people wandering in the desert for a whole generation were told by Moses that they had now “become the people of the LORD your God.”

And to remind them of the kind of life they were called to, God gave them something tangible as a visible reminder of the choice—Moses says—vs. 12—“When you have crossed the Jordan, these tribes shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin. 13 And these tribes shall stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce curses: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali.”

From each mountain—the choice was clearly laid out—a choice to live in Blessing and a Choice to live in Cursing.

It’s not the last time this is set before them in the book of Deuteronomy—which records some of Moses’ last words as the leader of Israel.

Deut. 11:26-28—“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse-- 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.”

Deut. 30:19-20—“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

These passages are reminders that choices have consequences—We can choose curses, we can choose blessing. Which do think God wants us to choose? He wants you and I to choose Blessing—to choose LIFE.

Choosing Life means that you are choosing to walk in the Vision—choosing to walk in the ways and calling of God that sets you apart—it shows your Love for the Lord, that you recognize and listen to His voice and that you are holding fast to Him. But not just for your benefit—“so that you and your children may live.”

In other words—that there may be life beyond your presence or existence—it benefits your children—those who are coming after you—those whom you are leaving a legacy for—5 years is a long time in the life of a child—so much development happens just in a few years.
When we choose blessing—choose Vision—it has effects that lasts for years.

Have you ever wondered where you will be in 5 years—when you think of that moment—is UBC still benefiting from your presence, or is it your children that will be living in the legacy you leave today? Think about that. The life and vision you live today will provide the life for their future. So it’s all the more important for us to live the Vision today—so that in 5 years—there will still be life here at UBC—b/c if we don’t and we choose the Cursing instead of blessing there will be death—in 5 years we’ll be wondering what we left to our children. I

In order for this church to survive beyond 5 years into the future, we must be committed to a vision today—a vision that helps us see our situation clearly, that rallies us to a great cause, that helps us overcome obstacles and opposition, that empowers us to accomplish great things.

What kind of life do we want to live as the Body of Christ at UBC? Do we want to live in the state of No Vision and slowly waste away? Or do we want to embrace and commit to fully embracing the vision that God is sending our way?

You may say—choosing blessing is a no brainer—why is this even up for discussion? Why? Because it’s so hard to do—knowing what is right and good is a totally different animal from doing what is right and good.

How many of you know that if you want to live healthier you need to eat better or eat less? How many of you know that you should get more sleep, but don’t: that you should get more exercise, but don’t

If you made any resolutions just a few weeks ago—they are usually to better your situation, and yet so many have already gone by the wayside.

I strongly believe that God desires to awaken our hearts to Him—that He wants to give us a vision for Life and Ministry here at UBC. And in that vision is Life, is Renewal, is Passion, is Effectiveness—that puts us on the road to great things that accomplish more than we ever could imagine..

We must be aware that as God puts opportunities and decisions before us that we must make choices. In the course of those choices—many times we will not be deciding between Bad and Good, but between Good and Good, Good and Better.

Philippians 1:9—Paul prays that our—“love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best”

Discerning what is best is not always easy—the good is often the enemy of the best. We must understand that as we seek the wisdom and vision of God together in our decisions, in our methods, in our ways of doing things, in our preferences or styles—we may see things differently—but we must be committed to each other, committed to fulfilling the vision of God, committed to building upon our foundation that has been laid, committed to fulfilling our part in the body—taking up our sword, taking up our shovel and building a section of the wall—rebuilding the gate that gives even more access to the Kingdom.

Nehemiah 3 is a chapter that details those who built the sections of the walls—how each family took a different part. In order for the whole wall to be built—they had to work together and independently. Do you think everyone’s section was uniform?

Your section of the wall to build is going to be different than mine—it may look a little different—but use the same basic materials—the foundation is Christ—the building is carried out by obedience to the Lordship of Christ--the ministry of the Gospel, the sharing of the Gospel, the growth of the gospel, the fellowship of the Gospel and the praise of the Gospel.

We are each gifted to serve in unique ways, none is more important than the other, but they are not the same—how you do it will be different from me—how I do it will be different from you—Rather than faithful to a uniform—we must be Faithful to Continue Building!!! What unites us together is our commitment to Christ and His vision for this fellowship.

Looking at the water damage the last few weeks has taught me something—you need to build both inside and outside. Imagine a church, a home a building where only the exterior walls were built—they took the time to put up the insulation, the brick the walls, to put in the windows and doors, to paint and set up beautiful flowers and plants, but on the interior—pipes, timber, was all exposed, there were no real rooms, just space—it would not be a serviceable building—no one would want to really be a part of whatever was happening on the inside. Without the interior worked on, the exterior is just making a dry spot to get out of the rain.

In the same way, if a building was built from the inside out—where only the interior was built—the dry wall was put up, the carpet laid down, the paint beautifully and stylistically done—would still be exposed to the weather and all that hard work would quickly deteriorate.

The interior and the exterior of our fellowship need the empowered attention of His people—Would you agree? We need the walls and the gates

Some examples of Vision that God is laying on my Heart for UBC—that I hope you will consider and commit to.
• A church that ministers lovingly and effectively to its attending and non-attending members
• A church that passionately fulfills the Great Commission by being emboldened witnesses locally & globally
• A Church that powerfully ministers to the children of our community and effectively Reaches and Incorporates their parents

• To be a church whose purpose is to be Christ-like in our daily living by emphasizing total commitment of life, personality, and possessions to the Lordship of Christ
• Life—not just on Sunday mornings—but afternoon, evening & Mon-Sat.—my social life, my home life, my work life, my vacation life—a total commitment of all of our life to the Vision and plan of God—because whoever loses their life—for the sake of Christ—will save it.
• Personality—christlike in my moodiness, my irritations and frustrations, my joys—in all things—our attitude & personality should be like Jesus—in the way we treat one another with respect, in the way we help each other in need.
• Possessions—total commitment of our possessions—finances, you name it—
• Our Daily living should emphasize it all—a total commitment to Christ
• I hope you have made that commitment.

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