Sermon:  Climbing the Wall

Summary:  Life is like a climbing wall.  In order to make it to the top, we need to remember 
not to look down and get stuck in the past, to keep climbing one step at a time through 
each change and transition in life with our focus on the goal, which is to be with God in 
eternity, and to avoid the things that detract us from climbing or weigh us down.  

Know:  As we transition through the various phases of life, it is of utmost importance to let 
our focus on God guide us and propel us through the change closer to him.

Feel:  Hope and expectancy that God is moving us closer to him as we climb with him.

Do:  Examine personal attitudes toward changes and transitions in life.  Reflect on the place 
of faith and hope through the changes and transitions in life and how it should affect 
decisions, directions, and personal attitudes in life.  

Text:  Heb 11:1, 8-16

Scripture Reading:  Phil 3:12-16

1.  Summer is nearly here.  Always a time of change
	a.  Some of you getting summer jobs
	b.  Some graduating
	c.  Some are moving to another place
	d.  We have all kinds of transitions throughout life
2.  How do we deal with these transitions?
	a.  Sometimes they are exciting - Graduation, Marriage, New Job
	b.  Sometimes they are difficult - Mid-Life, Death in Family, Empty Nest
	c.  We sometimes look expectantly to the future
		- Move can be exciting
		- Going off to college in the fall 
		- Will be a Senior next year
	d.  Sometimes we look wistfully to the past and miss it
		- Remember when the kids were still at home
		- Remember they way things used to be
		- Sometimes we miss the past and change is difficult
3.  Any guidance from God about moving through these transitions? (Heb 11:1)
	a.  TWO key concepts here - "faith"  AND  "hope"
	b.  Faith is the "substance" or "assurance" of things hoped for
		- "assurance" is hypostasis - firmness, stability, basis, foundation, 
		    reality, essence
		-  Give firmness to our hope
	c.  ILL:  At Tulsa Workshop, climbing wall, Jeremy & William climb to top
		- There were little footholds on it
		- Without those, climbing to the top would have been impossible
		- Faith is the foothold that enables us to reach our goal/hope
		-  So, faith and hope work together
	d.  Heb 11 gives some examples on how faith and hope work together to 
	     get us through life
		-  Will look at example of Abraham with analogy of climbing wall
		- (Heb 11:8-16)

I.  Don't Look Down
	A.  When going up a climbing wall, they say not to look down
		1.  Takes away your concentration
		2.  Can cause you to fall and not finish the climb to the top
	B.  Abraham did not look down
		1.  v.15 - If he had been always looking back, would have went 
		     back and not completed the journey
		2.  Need to realize this was a huge change for Abraham
			a.  v.8 - Didn't know where he was going
			b.  Contrast to Ur, his hometown
				- A sophisticated city
				- Many sophisticated buildings
				- Archaeologists found that it had running water!
				- Now Abraham is living in tents
		3.  But Abraham never said, "What am I doing here?!"
			a.  Never said, "Why did I EVER leave?"
			b.  Never said, "My heart is still in Ur"
			c.  He never looked down, but went where God told him
		4.  Sometimes, going where God says means living in tents  
			a.  Not always going to be this way
			b.  God took care of Abraham and his descendants
			c.  God takes care of birds of the air, and he takes care of us
	C.  ILL:  I had a friend from High School
		1.  Came to Harding the second year Stacey and I were there
			a.  Had been in "limbo," decided it time to move on with life
			b.  Both he and his wife enrolled at Harding
		2.  After a semester, he got mad - "What am I doing here?"
			a.  He couldn't believe that he left Plattsmouth
			b.  Went back tried to make everything the way it was before
				- Couldn't move back into same house, but got one 
				   across the street
				- Tried rekindling friendships from High School days
				- He had been out of High School for several years
			c.  Quit going to church
				- Why?  Even the church was no longer the same
				- People moved away, new people, got older, etc.
			d.  Problem -Trying to recapture glory of days that were gone
		3.  Life spiraled downhill for him
			a.  He and his wife been separated several times
			b.  Drinks too much and is never home
			c.  No longer walks with God
			d.  Kept "looking down," and it caused his downfall
		4.  He is just one example
			a.  Clarissa
				- No plans, not hope, no future
				- Stuck on her toxic boyfriend and would not let go
			b.  Tammy, a church hopper for awhile
				- Never happy with her congregation
				- Always comparing it to one she grew up in
				- Eventually fell away
			c.  Don't have to just be a washed out former High School 
			     jock to be stuck in the past
	D.  Don't look down
		1.  It is one thing to learn from the past, another to be stuck in it
			a.  I cannot go back to "home" and take up where I left off
			b.  My "home" is not there anyway, I have moved on
		2.  Past is over, which means you're transitioning to something new
		3.  (Eccl 7:10) - "Do not say, 'Why is it that the former days were 
		      better than these?'  For it is not from wisdom that you ask about 
			a.  Read it again
			b.  I have to remind myself of this the older I get
			c.  Why is this not from wisdom?
				- Don't want to get stuck in the past
				- Have a tendency to over-idealize the past
II.  Take the Next Step Up
	A.  When on the climbing wall, constantly be taking the next step up
	B.  Hebrews 11 is full of people who were reaching up
		1.  Look at the list
			a.  Enoch, who walked with God every step of the way and 
			     went to be with God without having to die
			b.  Joseph, who trusted in God every step of the way through 
			     all the ups and downs in his life
			c.  Moses who chose to walk with God rather than in Egypt
			d.  Israel who walked with God around Jericho
		2.  Abraham spent his entire life taking the next step (v.8-10)
			a.  Lived as an alien in land not yet his, but promised to him
			b.  Living in tents
			c.  Looking for the city of God
			d.  He never stopped reaching for God
		3.  It was one step at a time
			a.  First step to Haran, his Dad died
			b.  Then to Canaan, a famine hits
			c.  Then to Egypt, lies about his wife and gets expelled
			d.  Back to Canaan -- He lived like a nomad
		4.  His faith, his "foothold" propelled him toward the hope that God 
		     laid before him
			a.  He was a nomad with a goal, a hope
			b.  He believed God and therefore walked with God
	C.  ILL:  Dr McAdams in Searcy - Recommended to us while students
		1.  Member at Westside
			a.  Shocked Shane when he saw him in church
			b.  If you not know he a doctor, might think he a minister
		2.  Goes every year on a medical mission at his own expense
		3.  Free office visits to preaching students families
		4.  He is example of one always reaching
			a.  He sees practicing medicine as his calling from God
			b.  His whole life is always reaching for God 
	D.  Take one step at a time WITH GOD
		1.  Each foothold is with faith
		2.  Whether graduating, moving, a new job, or staying here
		3.  Always reach up

III.  Don't Stop
	A.  Can get tired along the way, but keep on climbing
		1.  Get so involved in school, no time for God
		2.  Get real busy at job, no time for God
		3.  Stay focused, keep reaching, don't stop
	B.  (v.16) - Looking for a heavenly home
		1.  His ultimate hope was not in this world
			a.  Not about gaining popularity, a great social life, etc.
			b.  Not about large house with 3 car garage
			c.  Not about advancement and promotions in his career
			d.  Not about accumulation of accomplishments or things
		2.  His ultimate home was at the top of all of the footholds
		3.  (12:1-2)
			a.  Lay aside every encumbrance
			b.  Run with endurance
			c.  Fix your eyes on Jesus
	C.  ILL:  What do you wear when climbing a wall?
		1.  Just the basics and nothing extra right?
		2.  Imaging loading down with excess baggage and other items
			a.  A suitcase full of designer clothes
			b.  A box of toys, gadgets, and other fun things
			c.  A lunch box with your favorite foods in them
			d.  Nothing wrong with these things, but can't make climb 
			     with them burdening you down
	D.  Life will throw all kinds of stuff at you during your climb
		1.  Will take your emotional, physical, and spiritual energy
		2.  Questions to ask:
			a.  Is this something that is truly important?
			b.  Does this help me or deter me from climbing?
			c.  Is this an encumbrance keeping me from climbing?

1.  Remember that your ultimate goal is not of this world
	a.  This world and all in it will pass away
	b.  Like Abraham, be far-sighted, reach for the ultimate goal
2.  Jesus offers that goal, that hope to you (inv)
3.  In all the changes, transitions, new places, friends, jobs, etc.
	a.  The one constant in it all is your ultimate goal - which is our Lord
	b.  As you take the next step up the wall, keep looking toward the goal
	c.  Don't get stuck in the past or in a rut
	d.  Fix your eyes on him and climb with endurance
4.  (Phil 3:12-14) - Forget what lies behind, press on toward the goal


Small Group Notes:  Climbing the Wall

Summary:  Life is like a climbing wall.  In order to make it to the top, we need to remember 
not to look down and get stuck in the past, to keep climbing one step at a time through each 
change and transition in life with our focus on the goal, which is to be with God in eternity, 
and to avoid the things that detract us from climbing or weigh us down.  

Open:  (pick one)
- As a child, what are some ways you showed trust to your parents?
- If you could listen to your own funeral eulogy, how would you like to hear yourself described?

Explore:  (Heb 11:1-2; 8-16, 24-27)

1.  It never appears that Abraham desired to leave living in a tent and go back "home" to the 
city of Ur, where he came from.  Why is this?

2.  Abraham went through several major transitions, challenges, and changes in his life and yet 
lived in the land promised him only as an Alien.  Why did he do this?

3.  Moses could have lived a life full of prestige, privilege, and power, yet chose to live a life of 
reproach.  Why?

4.  Discuss how faith and hope relate to each other.  What are they?  How are they linked?  
How are both necessary?  How do they shape the Christian life?  etc…. 


5.  What are some changes you are facing in your life?  How do you feel about them?

6.  Do you, like Abraham, feel like a stranger or alien in the land?  How does this affect the 
way you face changes and transitions in life?

7.  What place does faith and hope play in your life?  What gets in the way?

8.  What adjustments do you need to make as you continue to "climb the wall?"