Taking Our Pulse: “Clear and Inspiring Vision”

Hebrews 12:1-3

Based on the first ccommitment of a healthy church in Take Your Church’s Pulse.

Theme: God uses a clear and inspiring vision to motivate His people to action.
Goal: To motivate God’s people to action.
Need: Motivation.

People of God, our pulse is an indicator of life. It is called a “vital” statistic. It shows that blood is pumping through our veins and at what rate based on beats per minute. When a doctor or nurse takes our pulse, they are looking for signs of life and good health. After taking our pulse, they compare the results to a chart and make judgments about our health and wellness. Their intent is to motivate us to action. If our vital statistics reveal some problem areas, they want us to do something about it.

People of God, our pulse is an indicator of life. It is called a “vital” statistic. It shows that blood is pumping through our veins and at what rate based on beats per minute. When a doctor or nurse takes our pulse, they are looking for signs of life and good health. After taking our pulse, they compare the results to a chart and make judgments about our health and wellness. Their intent is to motivate us to action. If our vital statistics reveal some problem areas, they want us to do something about it.

Well, the same is true for our church. Every now and then it is good to check our pulse, look at the vital statistics, the indicators of life, and see how we are doing according to God’s definition of health. But the reason we do this is not just so we can say we did it. Rather we do this to motivate us to action.

So that is what we are going to do. Over the next several weeks, we are going to assess our overall health as a church body using 10 different biblical criteria. These are areas concerning what God says about what He wants His Church (His people) to be and do.

Today is the first area and it is called “Clear and Inspiring Vision.” Without a clear and inspiring vision we do not know who we are and we have no idea who we should become. So to make things simple, vision = what we see; it is how we see ourselves today and who we see ourselves becoming in the future ... by God’s grace. In short, vision is WHY we do WHAT we do. And God has always used “a clear and inspiring vision” to motivate His people to action. Just think about the Promised Land.

(Read Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 34:1-4; Joshua 1:1-5)

These clear and inspiring visions motivated God’s people to action. In other words, they did what they did because of the clear and inspiring vision they had been given. This becomes clear in the New Testament in Hebrews 11.

(Read Hebrews 11:8-10, 24-31)

It was their faith in the clear and inspiring vision of God and His grace that motivated them to action. Yet they did not receive it in their lifetimes.

(Read Hebrews 11:39-40)

However, now the time has come. Jesus fulfilled God’s vision for His people. So what made Jesus do what He did? What made him suffer and die on a cross? I contend that a clear and inspiring vision is what motivated Jesus to action.

(Read Hebrews 12:1-3)

God uses a clear and inspiring vision to motivate His people to action! And the same was true for Jesus.

(Read verse 2) - “... who for the joy set before Him endured the cross ...”

What was the joy set before Him? Well, one might think it was the throne. As the Bible says, “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” So was the throne Jesus’ joy? Was the throne His motivation? Perhaps, but why? Why would the throne be Jesus’ motivation? As the Word, the eternal Son of God, He already had the throne prior to His coming in the person of Jesus.

(See Philippians 2:5-11)

So what was different? What changed from the glory He had as the Son of God prior to His coming in the person of Jesus and the glory He had afterwards? It is the people. “Therefore ... at the name of Jesus every knee should bow ...” The difference is the people, and so the “joy” set before Jesus was not just a throne, but a throne surrounded by people. This is the clear and inspiring vision God used to motivate Jesus to action. It is also the same clear and inspiring vision God used to motivate the early Church to action.

(Read Acts 10:1-8)

God used a clear and inspiring vision to motivate Cornelius to action.

(Read Acts 10:9-23)

God used a clear and inspiring vision to motivate Peter to action. So Peter went with them. When he arrived at Cornelius’ house he preached the good news about Jesus (verses 39-43) and the results were amazing (verses 44-48).

People came to believe the truth about Jesus. They bowed their knees at His name, and they confessed His Lordship. God used a clear and inspiring vision to motivate Peter to action and when Peter saw that vision realized, He was truly amazed.

God has always used clear and inspiring visions to motivate His people to action, and the same is true today. So what is our clear and inspiring vision?

(Read Revelation 7:9-10)

This is the group of people Jesus saw around His throne. It was the joy set before Him, which enabled Him to endure the cross and scorn its shame. And this is the clear and inspiring vision that motivates us to action today.

(Read Revelation 7:13-17)

“Who are they? Where did they come from?” Who are they? They are you and me. They are our friends, family, and neighbors. They are Spanish-speaking people in Toppenish. They are Muslims from Bangladesh, former communists in Hungary and the Ukraine, Muslims in Niger, and street thugs in Guatemala. They are all those who hear the good news about Jesus, believe it, and bow their knees and confess the lordship of Jesus Christ!

This is the clear and inspiring vision God has given His Church—His people. It is the clear and inspiring vision God uses to motivate us to action. But what about us? Is this clear and inspiring vision motivating us to action? The first step in

taking our pulse is to consider our own congregation. Is this clear and inspiring vision clear to us? Is it our motivation? Please take a few moments to answer the questions on the page entitled “Clear and Inspiring Vision.” And please don’t try to be nice. Be honest. We need to know what you really think. Our “pulse” is a real picture of current reality. Our pulse is our pulse. We can’t change it or fudge the numbers—it is what it is. And it is this picture of reality that motivates us to action, and again the same is true for the church. We need a clear picture of current reality. Only a clear picture of current reality will motivate us to action if action is needed. So please don’t try to be nice. Be honest. It’s the only way we can know the truth. Thank you.

(Give a few moments to fill out the questions)

God uses clear and inspiring visions to motivate His people to action. We are His people because of Jesus Christ, so may God use His clear and inspiring vision to motivate us to action ... for God’s glory and Christ’s kingdom! Amen.