On the Edge of Greatness lesson 2
Crossing the Jordan 2 - On the Edge of Greatness; nv 6/12/05 a.m.
OS: I believe that it is God’s desire for every church to enter into greatness. You may be thinking, “Now, hold on, 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! You must 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. 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" or “The Banks of the Jordan”. 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."
Northview 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 believers in 1972. When the church moved to this location in the 1970’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 we are crammed into it was three times as large as the old auditorium. Our vision in relocating, even the sacrifices we face, do not seem so large when viewed through the perspective of history.
We decided some time ago to make the journey and over the coming weeks and months 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. On the first day we worship on Amity Hill Road we will be faced with the reality of what it means to be the church that God wants us to be. We have set aside that day to take a one time offering along with a attendance drive that would allow us the opportunity to make a statement to God. “God, we believe in You and we are willing to do what it takes to be the church You want us to be.”
3 characteristics of moving on to greatness. – Crossing the Jordan
CROSSING THE JORDAN 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]
As God had commanded they chose representative leaders to look at the greatness God had promised. And it is still the function of leadership to explore the vision of tomorrow and bring back a word for direction today. I’ve learned that “Our attitude is the primary force that will determine whether we succeed or fail!
Six shoe company executives were sent out to scout out prospects for expansion in a new country just emerging from a primitive state. They looked around conferred, and disagreed about the potential market. Four cabled their majority report; “No market here. Everyone goes barefoot.” The minority of two advised, “Everyone here needs shoes. Recommend opening a branch factory and office immediately.” All the executives noted that the people were barefoot. It was how they interpreted the situation and applied it to themselves that counted.” [Adult Teaching Guide. Bible Knowledge Series. Bible Study Guide: Exodus. Lesson 4 (Lynchburg, Virginia: Sp Publications) p. 44]
In our church we’ve had many years to consider all that God can do. We have seen His past faithfulness and should believe in His future provision. But will we believe enough to cross over to greatness. How can we not continue the vision, in the face of what has already been done. As we think of the souls that have been saved and the lives that have been touched and changed because of the influence of this church, we will want to be involved, we will want to continue the vision.
GREATNESS BEGINS WITH A VISION OF THE OPPORTUNITIES
CROSSING THE JORDAN IS ULTIMATELY DETERMINED BY A DECISION TO GET OUR FEET WEET.
I don’t want us to fail to notice that the last part of 13:2 says, “spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel…” God states in the present tense “I am giving” Israel the land even though Israel has not yet entered the Promised Land. God had clearly promised His people the land. They had the sure promise of God, “You will have the land.” But it would be up to them to cross over and possess it. This principle is still being missed by Christians today. God has called us to greatness, but we have to make the decision to cross over.
Everyone who looked at the opportunities before them could see the evidence of greatness for the future. All twelve of the Hebrew spies brought back the word that the land was as good as God had said. It is recorded in Numbers 13:27 that the spies said, “And they told him, and said, We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey; and this is its fruit.”
The report was good, it was undeniable that there was blessing ahead if they would cross over and take it. It was at this point a difference of opinion emerged. There were two categories of individuals that emerged.
•For many the threat outweighs the blessing of greatness. (v. 28)
"Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong…." Ten of the spies sent out came back with a bad report about the people and the situation. In a nutshell…It can’t be done! Have we ever heard that before?
When their original negativism was not enough, they began to imagine that things were worse than they were. (v. 32) “And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land..."
Those who cannot trust in God to overcome the challenge will generally exaggerate the challenge to make their refusal more plausible. The key is the phrase “bad report.” It is not that they gave a negative report but they gave a “bad report” that misrepresented the challenges ahead. The essence of their report was to postpone, hesitate, resist, wait, digress, and go back. Unbelief always waits for a more convenient season. They were positive as long as they were not confronted with the immediate call to advance. We could take this attitude.
There are giants of economic uncertainties, future unknowns, and shadows of the undetected we cannot see. I heard another story about a man who was a business manager for a small clothing store that was being threatened with extinction. A national chain store had moved in acquired all the properties on his block. This one particular businessman refused to sell. “All right then, we’ll build around you and put you out of business,” the competitor said. The day came when the small merchant found himself hemmed in with a new department store stretching out on both sides of his little retail shop. The competitors banners announced, “Grand Opening!”
The merchant countered with a banner stretching across the entire width of his store. It read, “Main Entrance.”
•For others the blessings outweigh the threats.
Caleb said, "… We are well able to overcome
it" (v. 30). He repeatedly said. "He will lead us.... he will give it to us... Do not be afraid, .. Lord is with us" (14:8). Joshua and Caleb also saw the giants, but they saw God as larger than the giants. They knew that the God who led them that far would not abandon them on the edge of greatness.
GREATNESS IS ULTIMATELY DETERMINED BY A DECISION TO CROSSOVER
THIRD, THERE ARE RESULTS WHEN WE REFUSE TO CROSS OVER TO GREATNESS.
•When a church refuses greatness, it turns on itself.
Numbers 14 contains a full report of the self-destructive grumbling that characterized God’s people who refused greatness. A church either gives itself to growth, conquest, and vision or pettiness and arguments about procedures, policies, and the preservation of the status quo.
•When a church refuses greatness, it wants to go back
(14:2-4). “And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, If we only had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! (3) Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not better for us to return into Egypt? (4) So they said one to another, Let us select a leader and return into Egypt.”
Many people have the tendency to live in the past. They not only live in the past but measure everything in the present by an exaggerated memory of “the way things use to be.”
On the edge of greatness a church may decide to turn around and go back. But the man who said, "You can’t go home again," was right. Israel wanted suddenly to go back to Egypt--the good old days of slavery and brick making! But they were caught in a wilderness of wandering for forty years of lost opportunity.
A church does not go back "to the way it was." When a church says no to greatness, there are years of slow death and decline.
What will be your response? Will you choose to go forward for the Lord or remain the same? We are at the edge of greatness, at the inter-section of opportunity and choice. Will we go forward in this year and seize the opportunities that God has for us. Or, will we refuse? Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it."