CLIFF’S SERMON 13 AUGUST

Isaiah 51:1-3, Habakkuk 2:1-3
The LORD Comforts Zion
51 “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father,
And to Sarah who bore you;
For I called him alone,
And blessed him and increased him.”
3 For the LORD will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
Let us pray
Father God, we thank you that you have called us to be your pilgrim people and given us a vision of your kingdom. From the time you called Abraham to step out in faith to this present day, you have guided your people into a promised land, where dreams and visions were realised through Christ Jesus our Lord, to the glory of your name. Hallelujah, we say, in Jesus name. Amen.
Look to the Rock from which you were hewn!
We are like Abraham and Sarah, we are a people called by God and there is a divine calling on our lives.
Look to the Rock from where you were hewn.
 Or, to put it another way, you could say, “I am a chip off the block!”
Say that with me, “I am a chip off the block!”
Turn to your neighbour and smile, and say, “I am a chip off the block!” And “God has a divine calling on my life!”
It was Mark Twain who said, the two most important days of your life are,
The day you were born, and the day that you find out why.”
The day you discover your purpose!
Most people go through life never knowing why, and most people will live and die and never come to terms with that Calling on their lives.
It is said that graveyards are filled with unfulfilled dreams and there they lie, because the people who were given them never took the chance to turn them into reality.
It was Maya Angelou who said that “If you are lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.”
The prophet Habakkuk wrote:
Habakkuk 2:1-3New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
2 I will stand at my watch
 and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
 and what answer I am to give to this complaint.[a]
The LORD’s answer
2 Then the LORD replied:
‘Write down the revelation 
and make it plain on tablets
 so that a herald[b] may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it;
it[c] will certainly come and will not delay.

And so, having a dream and a vision for our lives, and the life of the church; the Body of Christ, is important for us as a transformational pilgrim people, as we build the Kingdom of God.
One of the major problems that the people of God face, is that we do not understand the vision God has given us and therefore our purpose, because we have forgotten who we are, and the immense calling that God has placed on our lives.
Which is why we need to look to the Rock, from which we were hewn.
* We need to know where we come from and who we are.
* We need to know what our purpose is and why we are here.
* We need to know who is our neighbour, because loving our neighbour is 
part of that purpose, to which God in Christ Jesus has called us. 
Every one in this room today, has a divine assignment on our lives. And the challenge for us is to discover who we are and to realise that Call. 
Each one of us is uniquely gifted in some way, and there is something each one can do that nobody else can do in the same way in helping to build the Kingdom of God through our part in the Body of Christ. 
And one of the questions we need to ask ourselves is, “How attentive are we to the Good News of the Gospel, the presence of God and His message for each day of our lives?” Are we listening and watching, like the watchman on the ramparts? 
Blind Bartimaeus, had been blind since birth, but he believed that Jesus could give him the sight for which he had only ever dreamed. He had heard about this one who called Himself the Son of Man, and so he listened eagerly to hear for his coming. And when He came, called out to Him. Bartimaeus was determined to see, and so, he threw off his cloak, ran at great risk towards Jesus, calling out to him.
A blind man running, is an act of faith. And he addressed Jesus as Rabbi, or Rabboni, an act of faith itself.
And once Jesus had given him his sight, he followed Jesus on the path of Discipleship, wherever that might lead.
Those of us who are struggling in life and faith, are doing so, often because we are not attentive enough to God, or blind to the love of God in Christ Jesus. But, if we call out to him and accept his healing presence in our lives, we will see God, and his vison for our life in faith with Him, will make us more than we thought we could be.
He will be the wind beneath our wings and cause us to soar like eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint.
And that vision God can give us, is not only for our lives, but for His Church.
I’d like you to close your eyes and use your mind’s eye, the part of your brain where dreams are formed. Take a moment to give thanks for the congregation to which you belong, and to give thanks for the good things that God is doing among you and through you right now.
What is it about your church that makes you feel proud?
What things does your congregation do that you would like to see doing more?
And then imagine your congregation in ten years from now?
How will it be flourishing, and how will you be part of God’s success in that venture? Will it be a social, as well as spiritual hub in your community?
Do you imagine your church being full on Sundays, with families and children you have only ever dreamed?
Do you imagine a congregation where all people are welcome and enabled to serve in some way, thereby fulfilling the calling that God has placed upon them?
Do you even imagine that one day, your congregation will plant new churches in the next town, where once there were none, or where they had all previously been closed?
When we dream, our brains release Oxytocin, a neuro hormone that is beneficial to our social interactions and well-being. Dreaming, in other words, is good for you, it is healthy and leads us to greater fulfilment and success in what God is calling us to be.
And so, part of our calling as God’s pilgrim people is to continue to dream dreams and have visions of His Kingdom.
To see the dream, to believe it and then, with God’s help to make it reality!
Perhaps we feel that we are not like the Spiritual giants of yesteryear, or long ago. Instead, we might feel that we are like spiritual dwarves in comparison. Such humility is not a bad thing.
But ask yourself this question, who can see further, Giants or dwarves?
John of Salisbury. In 1159, John wrote in his Metalogicon: “Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”
A few centuries later, Sir Isaac Newton said,
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
“I Have a Dream” is a public speech delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States and called for civil and economic rights. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech was a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement.
He did not live to see his dream fulfilled, but President Barrack Obama stood on those steps 45 years and 5 months later to deliver his inauguration speech and delivered that dream as new reality.
God has given each one of us a dream of His kingdom and a vision to fulfil. And His divine call upon our lives is waiting to be realised.
I’ll finish with some famous words from Mission Impossible.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:
* See the vision,
* Believe in His promises
* And with God’s help, make it a reality for all God’s people. Amen.

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