God Loves Dedham – Part 3

4.  We must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us and empower us to fulfill the mission of the Church.  When Zechariah was prophesying to the exiled nation of Israel about rebuilding the temple, he received a night revelation from God saying, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” and “Who despises the day of small things?” Zechariah 4.6, 10  What Zechariah was calling us to do was to re-establish God’s throne (the Temple) on the earth.  What we’re called to do is not much different.  But we cannot do it by our own strength and our own wisdom.  We must be yielded to God’s vision and purposes.  If it seems like an impossible task, don’t worry.  It is!  But with God, nothing is impossible.  If it seems like we can’t do enough, don’t worry.  We can’t!  But God starts with humble beginnings.  The Lord will empower us, guide us, and make a way for us if we’ll only be faithful to step out and trust him.  “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” 2 Chronicles 16.9  Of course, in context, king Asa learned that those who are not fully committed to God will not receive that strengthening   He would be at war the rest of his days because he relied on his own ability and alliances instead of relying upon God.  Let us not fall into that trap!
5.  We must expand our vision to the size of the Kingdom.  Jesus was described in Isaiah 43 as a competent tool for God, the servant.  He was a sharpened sword and a polished arrow.  But he was ineffectual in his mission (Israel did not respond well to the servant in Isaiah, nor did they respond well to Jesus when he came).  He says, “I have labored to no purpose, I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.”  Isaiah 43.4  His mission was futile.  But God responded in verse 6, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”  Of course, it wasn’t that Jesus was a failure or that he didn’t anticipate the broader vision of restoring the whole world.  The point is that sometimes the vision is too small and the Spirit does not empower the vision.  God has a bigger vision.  Once we catch the larger vision, the power of God is infused into it.  Then, both the larger and the smaller vision are accomplished.  As Paul makes clear in Romans 11, it is the salvation of the Gentiles that leads to the salvation of the Jews.
Sometimes we are so focused on the smaller vision of our own churches.  Our labor can seem fruitless, or at best limited.  We must catch the larger vision of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom vision is what makes the local church strong.  The reality of God’s will on earth as it is in heaven is what makes the reality of the church possible.  In the economy of God, anything spent on the Kingdom is repaid in the church.  Dream bigger dreams with God and the little dreams will come true.  God will empower the work that he calls us to, and he has called us to Kingdom work first (Matthew 6.33 “But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”).  As the Kingdom of God expands and grows, the churches will all be blessed.  At least those that are mindful of the Kingdom will be blessed.  From my perspective, if my church fails while the Kingdom succeeds, I have faithfully executed my calling.  My hunch is that the aforementioned scenario is all but impossible.  If I’m faithful to the Kingdom the church will stand, and stand strongly.

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