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God has a vision for our church and He also has a vision for you. We tend to think that vision is an intangible, ambiguous thing, but God has actually made it very clear to us in His word.
Here’s why is so important we know what it is:
Proverbs 29:18 MSG – If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.
Good thing is, we know what God is doing because we talk about it all the time. But talking about it is not enough, we have to attend to what God reveals. In other words, we gotta do it. We gotta get to work.
We talk about God’s vision all the time here at NoLimits. You hear me use these words in about every message. I am intentional about making it very clear so that we all can be on the same page regarding the vision God gave us.
Let’s start with how this applies to your personal life.
God’s vision for me is to:
- Get closer to Him
- Grow in freedom
- Develop my purpose
- Make a difference
God’s vision for our church is to get:
- Lost people saved.
- Saved people pastored.
- Pastored people discipled.
- Discipled people mobilized.
Two different ways to say the same thing. And this is God’s vision for our lives and God’s vision for our church. Here’s how you hear me say it all the time. We all exist to:
- Know God
- Find Freedom
- Discover Purpose
- Make a Difference
This is our spiritual journey and we are all somewhere along this journey. So I want to do a little checkup with you this morning. How are you doing along this journey? Are you progressing?
The reason I ask is because it’s human nature to just kind of stall out and stay where it’s comfortable. Maybe you know just enough about God to keep you out of hell, but you’ve yet to go deeper into your relationship with Him.
Or maybe you’re pretty close to God, but there’s some stuff in your life that shouldn’t be there. But you just keep it hidden instead of bringing it out into the open so you can find freedom.
The problem is, if you leave stuff alone, if you stay in the same place, you actually get worse. There’s actually a mechanical term used in thermodynamics that explains this really well:
Entropy: A gradual decline into disorder.
In other words, when you leave stuff alone, it doesn’t stay the same, it gradually declines until you end up in a mess.
If you don’t maintain your body with the right food and exercise, it doesn’t get better, it gets worse. We’ve all had first-hand experience with this one, huh?
If you don’t work on your marriage, it doesn’t get better, it gets worse. But human nature is to wait until it’s in complete disorder before we do something about it. And then we act surprised at how it’s gotten so bad.
I don’t know if you’ve heard the story about a couple who had been married for 60 years. They had been married a long time and they had been faithful to each other, but the fire had kinda gone out. They weren’t real excited to be around each other anymore. The romance had just kinda fizzled out.
One night, the old man was sitting on the couch watching TV and I don’t know what hit the grandma that day, but she was feeling a little frisky. She came into the room with a little prance, sat down next to him, nuzzled up to his side and started nibbling on his neck. And grandpa just got up and walked away.
As he was walking away she said, “Honey, did I offend you in some way?” He said, “No, I’m going to get my teeth.” He was going to come back and do some nibbling of his own.
You might be wondering, “What did this story have to do with Vision Sunday?” Well, nothing. I just thought you could use a good laugh. The joy of the Lord is our strength!
God has vision for your life. He has vision for our church. It’s easy to grab hold of this vision and get started, but it’s also easy to experience some entropy where we stall out and gradually decline into disorder.
That’s why the Apostle Paul starts of his prayer for the church like this:
Ephesians 1:16-18 NLT – I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,
He didn’t just pray for them once. He continually prayed for them that they would continue to progress in the vision God had for their lives. Because even Paul knew that we had a tendency to get stuck.
But how do we know that Paul was praying for vision here? Because this is exactly where we see the four things we talked about earlier:
Ephesians 1:16-18 NLT – asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
Know God. Get closer to God. Because there is always a step closer.
Ephesians 1:16-18 NLT – I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light
Find freedom because the light drives out the darkness.
Ephesians 1:16-18 NLT – so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—
Discover purpose. Become confident in what He has called you to do.
Ephesians 1:16-18 NLT – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
Make a difference by helping others become part of God’s holy people.
So there it was. This is something that we need to pray for each other constantly – that none of us stalls out in our spiritual journey, but that we all continue to take steps forward.
We’re getting closer to God. We’re growing in freedom. We’re developing our purpose. And because of all of this, we’re making a mind-blowing difference.
Can I show it to you in the Old Testament as well? This is when God was revealing His plan to save the Israelites from Egypt.
Exodus 6:6-7 NIV – Therefore, say to the Israelites: “I am the Lord , and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
Know God. We’re talking about when you come to know him for the first time and He pulls you out of the bondage of the world and into your new life in Him.
Exodus 6:6-7 NIV – I will free you from being slaves to them,
Find freedom. God frees you from slavery to sin.
Exodus 6:6-7 NIV – and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
Discover purpose. It’s always been there. God had a purpose for you before you were even born, but the world has its way of distracting you from your purpose.
But you know what? God has a way of redeeming your purpose. Even if you’ve missed it for decades, He can put you right where you need to be.
Exodus 6:6-7 NIV – I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”
Make a difference. Our purpose is to grow the kingdom of God, to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
This vision is all throughout the Bible. This is God’s vision for you. This is God’s vision for our church.
- Know God.
- Find freedom.
- Discover purpose.
- Make a difference.
Today is the day to figure out where each of us are on this spiritual journey so we can take our next step. Let’s keep this thing moving forward. Let me help you figure out where you are with four questions.
1. How close am I to God right now?
We tend to approach God as an earthly being having a supernatural experience. In other words, most of the time we hang out right here in our natural world and occasionally we turn ourselves towards the spiritual realm and talk to God.
But what if we have it backwards? We think we are earthly beings having a temporary spiritual experience. But really, we are spiritual beings having a temporary earthly experience.
You are a spirit. As a matter of fact, that is the only part of you that is going to live forever. This body doesn’t make it to heaven. You get a brand new, glorified body.
And let me tell you, my arms are going to have about three times more muscle than they have right now. My nose won’t be crooked anymore and it will probably be a little bit smaller.
Since we are primarily spirit beings, don’t you think it would serve us well to prioritize our spiritual lives? To spend more time focusing on our spiritual health? To make sure we are always staying close to God?
Romans 12:11 AMP – Never lag behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serve the Lord.
Have you ever been on fire for God and then a short while later you didn’t even want to get up for church? Of course you have. We all have. And it’s because of entropy. We stopped giving attention to our spiritual lives, and our relationship with God gradually went downhill.
We understand that our closeness with others has a direct correlation to how much quality time we spend with them. But when it comes to God, we feel like a Sunday here and there should be enough.
But if you really want to be close with God, you need to be intentional about spending time with Him every day. Have a specific time of the day that you spend time in prayer and in His Word.
For me, this happens before I start working. I go to my office in the morning and the first thing I do is sit in my prayer chair and connect with God. Every morning, this is what I do.
You don’t have to do it in the morning, but you should do it at the same time every day. Not because God requires it, but because if you don’t, you won’t do it. You’ll forget or find something else to fill the time.
You schedule it for you. God doesn’t need a schedule, but you do. You have to be intentional.
But don’t turn this into some kind of rule-following session where you get to your prayer time and go through the motions and even start your prayer with, “Well, Kade said I had to do this… so here I am Lord…”
What you do matters. Being intentional about spending time with God matters. But it all means nothing if it doesn’t come from a motivation of love. Let me show you:
Revelation 2:2-4 NLT – “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
So these people were really good at doing the right things. But they were doing them out of a religious motivation. They wanted to follow the rules and wanted to be known as people that follow the rules.
Problem is, without love, even the good things you do are meaningless. So, as you get intentional about spending time with God, let everything you do come out of a motivation of love. Do it because you are madly in love with God.
Come to church because you are in love with God and His people. Join a small group and prioritize it because you love God and His people. Be faithful in your tithes and offerings because you love God and love His people.
So how is your relationship with God? If it’s not where it needs to be, your answer is revealed in the very next scripture:
Revelation 2:5 NIV – Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
I’ve already asked you to do that first part. How is your relationship with God? And if it’s not where it needs to be, repent. All that means is you’ve been headed the wrong direction, so you turn around and head back towards God.
Now some of you need to do a little checkup on your find freedom. You found a little freedom over here but then you stalled out. And here’s a question to ask yourself to determine if this is you:
2. How close am I to other believers right now?
Scripture shows us that freedom is a direct result of how good your relationships are with other believers. In other words, you don’t find freedom on your own. You find freedom by getting real with other believers.
You know the biggest problem with this one? It takes time. And we’re too busy. We think all these other things are more important, so we neglect these relationships and eventually pay the price for it.
Building relationships with other believers is one of those things that is important but not urgent. So it gets overrun by the things that are urgent but not important, like the notifications on your phone.
Our fall semester of small groups kicks off next week, but you can view the available groups and sign up for one today after service. Join a group. Join a group. Join a group.
Don’t just join one, but prioritize your group. Trust me, things are going to come up that are more urgent than your small group, but they are not more important. And you are going to have to make a decision to say no to the urgent and show up to your small group instead.
You can’t build relationships without time. You can’t walk in freedom without relationships. You were never meant to do this by yourself. We’re in this together. We’re here for each other.
Hebrews 10:25 NLT – Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Let me encourage you today to join a small group. Don’t take the entropy path where you sit this semester out and try to do things alone. No, make a choice to prioritize relationships with other believers. Because you need them to walk in freedom.
Some of you might be thinking, “I’m already walking in freedom, so I don’t need small groups.” But small groups need you. Since you figured out how to walk in freedom, you owe it to your church family to help them do the same.
Get in a group. Get in a group. Get in a group. Healthy relationships with other believers is God’s vision for you. And you build those relationships in small groups.
Now some of you need to do a little check in on your “discover purpose”. God’s placed a calling on your life. You have a specific function in the body of Christ, but you are not fully engaging in it just yet.
The question is, why do we stall out on our purpose? I think it’s one of two reasons: we either think too much of ourselves, or we think too little of ourselves. So here’s a question to help you determine if this is where you are stuck:
3. Do I see myself the way God sees me?
If you think you are all that and a bag of chips, you are not seeing who God created, you are seeing who you created.
If you think you’ll never amount to anything, you are not seeing who God created, you are deceived by the lies of the enemy.
Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about this:
Romans 12:3-5 NLT – Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Faith is God’s way of doing things. We measure ourselves with the very thing that God has given us. You didn’t create faith on your own, He gives it to you every time your mind is renewed with the Word of God.
Romans 12:3-5 NLT – Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In other words, when you are not operating in your purpose, our church has a missing body part. We’re falling over because we don’t have our big toe. Or we can’t pick up the trash because we don’t have our hands.
Our church cannot fulfill its potential without you discovering and walking in your purpose. You have a special function in the body of Christ and you are the only one that can fulfill that function. We need you.
For some of you, that means you need to go through Growth Track. Growth Track is a three-step process where we help you discover and plug into your purpose here at church.
Now, some of you have already been through Growth Track, but you never plugged into a team here at church. Well, we need you. Take what you learned in Growth Track about yourself, find a team that fits, and get plugged in.
It’s all about making a difference. We make a difference when we serve others. We serve others here at church on the Dream Team.
So what causes us to stall out, to get all the way through to discover purpose and then get stuck, unable to make a difference. I think it’s because we aren’t thinking enough about heaven. Here’s the last question to ask yourself:
4. Am I living with heaven in mind?
Our default is to live our lives only thinking about what’s going on here on earth. We know eternity is coming, but it seems so far away that we tend to put it off until later. Entropy.
I mean, we have it good here. We live in America, we have air conditioning. We have way too much food. We have garage doors that open themselves so we can drive our three cars inside. It’s a good life. And we want more of it.
The Apostle Paul knew we’d struggle with this. That’s why he gave us this stern warning:
Philippians 3:18-20 NLT – For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.
It’s okay to enjoy pleasures. But it’s not okay to crave pleasures, where the only thing you think about is the next house, or the next car, or the next dessert, or the next doobie. Yeah, I said it. And I even know what it is.
Philippians 3:18-20 NLT – But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
Y’all enjoy the amazing things God has given us on this earth. But never let them become more important than heaven. Don’t get so busy with this life that you forget people need you to introduce them to Jesus so you can see each other again in heaven.
At the end of our lives, there’s going to be two judgements. First, God will ask us why we belong to heaven and the answer is simply, “Jesus”. That’s the only way to spend eternity in heaven is to believe in Jesus and say that you do.
Then there will be another judgement. No matter what happens during this second judgement, there is nothing that can take away the gift of heaven that Jesus gave you. So don’t be concerned about that.
But at the second judgement there is going to be a fire. There are some things that can’t come with you to heaven, so Jesus is going to have to burn those off of you. Let me show you:
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NLT – But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.
Survives what? Eternity. Meaning that what you did here on earth had an eternal impact on someone’s life. All those things will survive the fire and you will receive a reward for each one.
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NLT – But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
Here’s what this means. If you live your life without heaven in mind, everything that you did here on earth will be burned up and you will enter heaven with nothing to show for all the time you spent here on earth.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste this life. I’m excited that this fire will burn up everything I’ve messed up, but I also want a big pile of things that survive the fire.
And I know you do too, or you wouldn’t be here. But if we leave this area alone, entropy will set in. We will gradually decline until all we think about is ourselves.
Our culture paints a picture of a life focused on self as a good life. But it’s a sucky life. It’s a lonely life. It’s a meaningless life.
We’ve gotta live our lives with heaven in mind.
Are you ready to give your heart to Jesus? Let’s not let another moment go by. It’s time to go all in.
Jesus died for you. Everything that He suffered through leading up to His death was so that you can live free from regret, free from sickness, and be completely delivered from your tendency to make destructive decisions.
Only the power of Jesus can free you from your sin and He wants to do that right now. And all you have to do is believe that He can do it. Step out in faith right now and say, “Yes, Jesus. I believe.”
Salvation Next Step
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.