Summary: Three characteristics of moving on to greatness taken from the Children of Israel’s refusal to cross over into the Promised Land.
On the Edge of Greatness
(Basic Sermon idea from a sermon by Pastor Eric Goodman)
I believe that it is God’s desire for every church to enter into greatness. You may be thinking, “Now, hold on Bro John, that can’t be right! Are you saying that it is God’s will that every church be a mega-church?” No, not at all! The problem is you do not understand the meaning of the word greatness. Greatness is not determined by attendance, offerings, or size of the facilities. It is reflected by being all that we can be in the place that God has placed us!
I believe that every church at some point comes to a crossroads, at which it decides whether or not it will enter into greatness. Whether or not a church enters greatness is decided in a very significant location, a place called "The Edge of Greatness". That edge of greatness is always found at the intersection of opportunity and choice.
This morning I want to share with you a story of how God’s Old Testament people stood on the edge of greatness in a dramatic and inescapable moment.
There is no doubt that God had brought them to this moment. The children of Israel were slaves in Egypt when God sent Moses to deliver them. It took ten plagues to convince the Pharaoh to let them go. God had miraculously delivered them from Pharaoh’s army by parting the Red Sea, when he went back on his word and pursued them. God led them out of Egypt and across the wilderness. They are now standing on the edge of the promised new land.
Yet at the edge of greatness they found themselves at a crisis of belief. With overwhelming evidence of God’s power behind them, they suddenly stopped believing God and stopped moving forward.
Turn with me to Numbers 13:17, where we read, “Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, (18) And see what the land is like. Whether the people who dwell in, are strong or weak, few or many, (19) Whether the land they dwell in is, good or bad; and whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; (20) Whether the land is, rich or poor, whether there be forest there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.”
In just a few moments we will note that out of twelve spies who investigated the greatness of their tomorrow, ten said that they could not do it!
This episode was recorded as an example for us. Note: 1 Co. 10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
Our church stands at the same edge of such greatness. The evidence of our past shows God’s definite leadership. This church began with just a handful of fledgling believers just after the town had come into existence in the period after the American Civil War. When the church moved to this location in the 1950’s to build a new church building it was a bold move of faith for the 60-65 active attenders. When the church built the auditorium that now serves as our Fellowship Hall in 1960’s it was three times as large as the old auditorium. When that auditorium seating 225 was built the population of Vilonia was less than 400. Our vision in building the present auditorium, even the sacrifices we contemplate, do not seem so large when viewed through the perspective of history.
Today is one of those days, for today we must decide whether to press on to greatness or retreat to a wilderness of mediocrity. Between where we are today and where God wants us to be tomorrow there always lays a challenge. In April of 2000, we moved into this new auditorium, which we had built to allow us to grow with our community. Today we have set aside this day to take a one time offering and pledges that would allow us to lay aside the financial concerns of paying for this building. We cannot allow a constant concern for making the building payment to sap the energy of this church. It is time to step up and be counted.
I want to share with you three characteristics of moving on to greatness.
FIRST, GREATNESS BEGINS WITH A VISION OF THE OPPORTUNITIES (13:2)
"Send men, to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel…”
What do I mean when I say “greatness
begins with a vision of the opportunities?” So what is vision. Charles Swindoll defines vision as “the ability to see God’s presence, to perceive God’s power, to focus on God plan in spite of the obstacles.” [Charles Swindoll. Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. From The Inspirational Writing of Charles Swindoll. Living on the Ragged Edge & Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. (New York: Inspirational Press, 1992) p. 465]