(9/22) In the Book, A Savior for all Seasons, William Barker tells the story of a bishop from the east coast who, over a 100 years ago, paid a visit to a small mid-western religious college. He stayed at the home of the college president, who also served as a professor of physics
and chemistry. After dinner, the bishop declared the millennial reign of our Lord could not be far off, because just about everything about nature had been discovered and all inventions conceived. The young college president disagreed and said that he believed that there were many more things to be discovered. The Bishop began to
get angry and strongly disagreed and challenged the young president to name just one possible discovery or invention. The President said that he felt certain that within the next 50 years, man would learn how to fly.
"Nonsense," said the bishop, "only angels are intended to fly." The Bishopís name was Wright who had 2 boys at home who would prove that they had greater vision than their father. Orville and Wilbur Wright lived in the same home under the same sky, but they didnít see the same horizon.
Every year at this time millions of Americans make resolutions for the New Year. These resolutions, more often than not, involve personal goals, like weight loss, and exercise. Perhaps you have made some, like reading more, or reading through your Bible this year. (You can with 3 chapters a day and 5 on
Sunday), or praying more, or spending less. Maybe you will come up with a Bucket List (things you want to do before you kick the bucket).
This morning, I want to challenge you as we continue with our series, "Stop just going to Church and Start being the Church," to develop a vision. I am not talking specifically about something mystical, but rather a goal, a passionate desire to see something done or to make something necessary happen. I
want to challenge every committee and every team in the church to think or dream about something you could or should do, that would be impossible without God in it. Or, think about something to accomplish, for God, that is more than the status quo. Ask God to give you the faith to dare to do something extraordinary, like Robert
I donít know if he was a man of faith, but he was a man of vision. Robert Woodruff served as president of Coca- Cola from 1923-1955. Following WWII, Woodruff announced his vision. He said that before he died, he wanted every person in the world to have tasted Coca-Cola.
I donít know about you but I donít want to do things just because we have always done them. George Bernard Shaw, once said, "Some men see things as they are and ask, Ďwhy,í I dream things that never were and ask, Ďwhy not?í
Our Lord, whom we serve and love and come together as a church to worship, had a vision. His vision was that every person in the world would hear the wonderful story of the God who loves them and has provided for their salvation, so they can live life with hope and purpose. That vision included building
communities of caring people who would love each other as Jesus did and does. These communities, collectively called the Church, would push back the gates of hell, releasing men and women from Satanís power and deception and grow like a snow ball rolling down a mountain. He never intended that church just be a place we go to on a
Sunday, but a living force of world changing people who love God.
Many of those called by His name in America have lost the vision. Have you? Has ECBC? The primary reason for the existence of this church is to do what we can to make our Lordís vision, His goal, His passionate dream become a reality. We must not succumb to just maintaining a religious establishment. The
Church is who we are, not where go. We are the special unique group of people set apart by the Holy Spirit to minister as Jesus Christ in the world. We are here for the primary purpose of making our Lordís vision a reality.
Paul was a man of Vision. Always a man of passion, Paul went from being the top in his field, to being zealous to destroy Christianity, until he was confronted with the Savior. We have no idea how many homes he destroyed and or how many people he had injured or put to death. What we do know is that he
became one of our Lordís chief advocates whose goal it was to make our Lordís vision a reality. For just a few moments I would like to show what made Paul such an extraordinary leader and how we, as well, can accomplish great things.
- Paul was aware of His Purpose. Look at 1 Timothy 1:12-16; cp. Acts 26:15-18; Romans 15:15-16. God had saved him for a purpose. He knew that the Lordís plan was to reach the nations Ė the Gentiles, the heathen with the God news of Godís Salvation (vv.8-11). My friends, God saved you for a purpose, the
same purpose for which he saved Paul. Look at 1 Peter 2:9-10. He saved us to be ambassadors for Jesus (2 Cor. 5:18-21), not just so we would miss hell and go to heaven, but so we would catch His vision and distribute His grace to those who need it. Nearly 20 years ago, there was a movie with Alec Baldwin called, The Shadow. Do
you remember that? Some of you might remember the radio drama. Well, I watched it, though I didnít care for it. The Shadow would rescue people from some danger and then give them a ring and tell them that their lives now belonged to him. When their rings glowed it meant that he wanted them to help him in some way and whatever
he asked, they had to do it. Jesus rescued us and our lives belong to Him and we are to help His vision become a reality (1 Cor. 6:19-20). One of the first things Paul asked the Lord when he was confronted was this, "What would you have me do, Lord?" Have you asked Him that question? Do you know that He saved you for a
- Paul had a Plan (Rom. 15:17-21). We know from his letter to the Galatians, in chapter 1, that almost immediately Paul went to Arabia for 3 years. Many believe that it was to re-study the scriptures to see what he had never seen about the death and resurrection of Godís Messiah. Then, he went back to
Damascus to preach the good news of Jesus. His plan was to simply make himself available to God in whatever way God would choose, and God used him. One of the first things Paul was called to do was to be the associate Pastor of the 1st Baptist church of Antioch. Barnabas was the Pastor (Acts 11). It was soon recognized that
Paul was a good teacher and the church at Antioch knew that the Lordís vision was to tell the world, and they wanted to see that vision accomplished so they commissioned Paul and Barnabas to go and tell un-reached people about Jesus. That became Paulís plan, to boldly go to people who had never heard about Jesus to tell them
about the God who loved them. Paulís plan was simple. He would prepare himself and make himself available to God in whatever way God chose with out gimmicks, marketing strategies or schemes, in order to accomplish Jesusí vision. Have you? Have you said, "Here I am, Lord, ready to serve you in what ever way you chose. I am
going to make myself available to my church and do what ever I can to fulfill your vision."? Listen carefully, the only ability God is looking for in you, is availability. Have you made yourself available to God?
- Paul Knew he had the Power to Fulfill his Purpose (v. 15, 12:3-6, cp. Acts 1:8; Phil. 4:13). The grace that he is referring to is not the saving grace of God but the empowering grace of the Holy Spirit. Look at ch. 8:9-13. It is the same Holy Spirit and the same power that you have today. Paul was no
super-human hero. He was a man who put his pants on one leg at a time as James said Elijah was. The last words that Matthew records for us of our Lord Jesus were these in Matthew 28:18-20. He is the one who also said, "Follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men." None of us who claim to be His disciples should ever
say, "I could never, Oh, I canít, Iím not able to do that." The God you called us and saved us enables us to minister His grace in remarkable ways. (Ephesians 3:20-21) Do you believe that? Do you believe that the Same Holy Spirit that Raised Jesus from the dead, resides with you and in you to empower you to do all God has
called you to do? Do you really believe that?
- Paul had His Priorities in Order (v.20-22; 1:9-14) Though he loved ministering to Christians, Paul felt his first obligation was to the lost. He wanted to carry water to those in the dessert and not to those who lived on the river. He believed he had a duty to tell the world he lived in, about Jesus.
Though he loved the Roman Christians had not seen them and wouldnít until he believed he had done all he could to fulfill His Lordís vision. He could not stand the thought of people being lost because they had never heard of Jesus (9:1-3; 10:1; 1 Cor. 9:16; Acts 26:29). Paul knew that he had spent the first half of his life
climbing the ladder of success, just to find out that it was leaning against the wrong wall. There was a time when making money, getting his degrees, being a sought after speaker is what mattered to Paul. Now they do not. Fulfilling his Lordís vision did. That anyone would needlessly go to hell was unbearable to Paul and it
should be to us. Do you ever think about hell and those who will go there? What part of your life and your resources are devoted to rescuing people from hell?
Robert Woodruffís vision was that every living person would taste Coca-Cola. Our Lordís vision is that every living person would taste the Living Water. What will you do in 2010 to fulfill His dream? Would you dare to ask God for a vision? Remember God had a purpose for saving you and adopting you as His
own. He has gifted you with His Holy Spirit and empowering Grace to minister for Him. You can climb your own ladder of success, but more likely than not, you will discover that it is leaning against the wrong wall, or you can make Jesusí vision your own and hear Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant"
Let me close with some suggestions. Consider:
- A lunch time Bible study where you work, once a week.
- An evangelistic Bible study in your home for your neighbors. You can look at what Jesus says about Himself in the Gospel of John, or what the Bible says about marriage, parenting, or finances and use that as a means of sharing the gospel.
- I will go through the neighborhood to invite every family to our church or every child to our Sunday School, youth group or Teen Kid.
- I will invite one family a week or a month that is un-churched to attend with me and then invite them home or to a restaurant for lunch and discuss their understanding of Jesus and how to get to heaven.
- I want to learn how to share the Gospel so I can visit people who visit our church, or my neighbors, and tell them about how to be saved.
- I will start a prayer ministry in my neighborhood. I will knock on doors and tell my neighbors that our Church believes in prayer and we want to pray for our community. I will ask them for something to pray about and I will pray for them on the spot, and next month I will go back and ask them how God
answered and what else we can pray for and as God opens doors, I will tell them about Jesus.
- I will have a dinner once a month or once a quarter and invite the less fortunate to come and enjoy a good meal in accordance with Luke 14:12.
- I will call or visit assisted living homes and nursing homes and ask if any church is ministering there and if not I will go weekly or monthly to do a Bible study and share the gospel with people who are so close to death and who need someone to love them.
- I will call a friend or two and once a week, at lunch, or over coffee, we will pray for pastors and missionaries and lost people.
- I will use my home and yard to have a backyard Bible club and reach children who may not come to church for Jesus.
- I will find a young man or woman who needs a Godly influence and I will mentor them for God.
- These are just some ideas, you may have your own, but:
My friends, let us not be just another status quo church. I have had enough of same ole, same ole, havenít you? Letís make our Lordís vision our vision. Letís stop being people who just go to church and, starting in this new 2010, letís really be the church. What do you say? Amen? Amen!
His vision and goal is that no one go to hell but all would be saved and go to Heaven. Have you accepted his grace for forgiveness and eternal life?
Will you commit to making His vision your own this?
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman