Revelation and Vision
About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness.
In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?
Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries. ── Lynn Anderson.
It started like so many evenings. Mom and Dad at home and Jimmy playing after dinner. Mom and Dad were absorbed with jobs and did not notice the time. It was a full moon and some of the light seeped through the windows. Then Mom glanced at the clock. "Jimmy, it's time to go to bed. Go up now and I'll come and settle you later." Unlike usual, Jimmy went straight upstairs to his room. An hour or so later his mother came up to check if all was well, and to her astonishment found that her son was staring quietly out of his window at the moonlit scenery. "What are you doing, Jimmy?" "I'm looking at the moon, Mommy." "Well, it's time to go to bed now." As one reluctant boy settled down, he said, "Mommy, you know one day I'm going to walk on the moon." Who could have known that the boy in whom the dream was planted that night would survive a near fatal motorbike crash which broke almost every bone in his body, and would bring to fruition this dream 32 years later when James Irwin stepped on the moon's surface, just one of the 12 representatives of the human race to have done so? ── Bill Hybels, Who You Are When No One's Looking, IVP, 1987, p. 35.
In 1212 a French shepherd boy by the name of Steven claimed that Jesus had appeared to him disguised as a pilgrim. Supposedly, Jesus instructed him to take a letter to the king of France. This poor, misguided boy told everyone about what he thought he had encountered. Before long he had gathered a large following of more than thirty thousand children who accompanied him on his pilgrimage. As Philip Schaff records it, when asked where they were going, they replied, "We go to God, and seek for the holy cross beyond the sea." They reached Marseilles, but the waves did not part and let them go through dry-shod as they expected. It was at Marseilles that tragedy occurred.
The children met two men, Hugo Ferreus and William Porcus. The men claimed to be so impressed with the calling of the children that they offered to transport them across the Mediterranean in seven ships without charge. What the children didn't know was that the two men were slave traders. The children boarded the ships and the journey began, but instead of setting sail for the Holy Land they set course for North Africa, "where they were sold as slaves in the Muslim markets that did a large business in the buying and selling of human being. Few if any returned. None ever reached the Holy Land." Two cunning men enjoyed enormous financial profits simply because they were willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of children.── Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American Jungle, 1991, Multnomah Press, p. 60-61.
One time when Michigan State was playing UCLA in football, the score was tied at 14 with only seconds to play. Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State's coach, sent in placekicker Dave Kaiser who booted a field goal that won the game. When the kicker returned to the bench, Daugherty said, "nice going, but you didn't watch the ball after you kicked it." "That's right, Coach," Kaiser replied. "I was watching the referee instead to see how he'd signal it. I forgot my contact lenses, and I couldn't see the goal posts." ── Bits & Pieces, September 15, 1994, p. 7-8.
The story is told that after Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Miss Sullivan's surprise, Helen spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God's name, Teacher, for he has touched me many times before." Helen Keller knew something of God's signature from nature, but it was wordless.── Source Unknown.
T.E. Lawrence once said, "All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to the day to find it was all vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for the many act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible..."── Source Unknown.
Vision: the capacity to create a compelling picture of the desired state of affairs that inspires people to respond; that which is desirable, which could be, should be; that which is attainable. A godly vision is right for the times, right for the church, and right for the people. A godly vision promotes faith rather than fear. A godly vision motivates people to action. A godly vision requires risk-taking. A godly vision glorifies God, not people. ── Bob Logan.
Vision is the ability to understand the history, the present condition, and the potential of the church, and to conceive a plan for action that will maximize the ministry potential. More often than not, vision is a result of having spent much time absorbing the facts about the community, knowing the resources upon which the church can call (people, funding, facilities, equipment, etc.), and devising sound but creative strategies for moving forward. Vision always entails progress: it is never satisfied with the status quo. ── George Barna, How to Find Your Church, p. 104.
Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. ── C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.
"THE NEED FOR VISION"
1. Any successful endeavor requires a vision...
a. The word "vision":
1) Literally means the ability to see things that are visible
2) But it also used to mean the ability to see other things
a) "unusual competence in discernment or perception;
intelligent foresight" (American Heritage Dictionary)
b) "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible" (Jonathan
b. Such ventures as business or politics require "men of vision"
1) Companies require CEOs with vision, countries require leaders
2) Without the ability to visualize worthy goals and how these
can be realized, very little of importance is achieved
2. In the Lord's work, we desperately need an elevated vision of what
it is all about...
a. We need greater goals (what can be done) and greater objectives
(how it can be done)
b. Jesus certainly had a great vision: the saving of souls! - cf.
Mt 9:36-38; Jn 4:35
c. We need to have visions that are worthy of the "King of kings and
Lord of lords"
[What can help us to elevate and enlarge our vision in the Lord's work?
Let's first notice how an inadequate vision can actually stifle our
TWO WAYSOUR VISION CAN BE INADEQUATE
A. AN ILLUSTRATION OF AN INADEQUATE VISION...
1. Suppose a man is driven by the "vision" of "making as much
money as possible"
2. Two things may keep him from making as much money as he should
a. He may be limited in his idea of what is "a lot of money"
b. He may never make any specific plans other than have the
vague notion of "making as much as possible"
3. His problem? His vision:
a. May be too small concerning what can be done
b. May be too general without any plan for what he can be
doing now to make his vision a reality
B. OUR VISION OF THE LORD'S WORK MAY LIKEWISE BE INADEQUATE...
1. We may have the vision of "teaching as many people the gospel
2. A noble vision on the surface, but we might by afflicted by
the same shortcomings:
a. We may think too small concerning what can be done
b. We may think too generally about what we should be doing
C. THE PROBLEM OF A VISION THAT IS TOO GENERAL...
1. No dream has ever been achieved except by someone who dared to
flesh it out in terms of the specifics necessary to make the
dream a reality
2. For example, it is fine to plan:
a. To go to heaven
b. To serve the Lord faithfully
c. To do the work of evangelism
3. But how do we do such things?
a. By what means do we get those results?
b. What specific, measurable actions will take us where we
want to be?
c. How much time, effort, and money will it take?
-- We need to see our vision of the Lord's work in concrete terms
of things we can actually do...and plan specifically how much
of them we are going to do!
D. THE PROBLEM OF A VISION THAT IS TOO LITTLE...
1. When we do think specifically about the Lord's work, we often
fail to set our sights high enough
a. Perhaps we are hindered by our past experience
1) Personal efforts made in the past may have not born
2) Congregational efforts did not seem to go anywhere
b. Perhaps we have been fed a steady diet of defeatism
1) Told by others that people are not interested in
spiritual matters anymore
2) Telling ourselves that people are not interested
2. With small visions, many churches and individuals seem content
a. Just "keeping house for the Lord"
b. Just an occasional conversion, usually involving our
children or spouses
-- With the limited vision of many churches, little is done and
little is accomplished
[I believe the Lord intends greater things for His church, especially
for those servants with a willingness to work (cf. Mt 13:31-33; 1 Co
16:8-9; Re 3:8). What does a vision worthy of our Lord's work
require? Perhaps the following thoughts might be a step in the right
II. WHAT OUR VISION NEEDS
A. OUR VISION NEEDS TO BE GREAT...
1. E.g., to double in attendance every year
2. E.g., to spread the gospel to thousands in our community each
B. OUR VISION NEEDS SPECIFIC ACTION-STEPS...
1. To double in attendance every year:
a. Invite two people a week; by the end of the year you will
likely have a least one attending regularly
b. Provide transportation to people who can't drive; is the
value of a soul not worth what time or effort might be
involved? - cf. Mt 16:26
-- If each person succeeded is just getting one person to come
regularly, the attendance would easily double
2. To spread the gospel to thousands in our community each year:
a. Give a tract to one person per week
b. A congregation of 50 would share the gospel with more than
2500 people per year
-- How does that compare to the past year, where no vision was
C. OUR VISION NEEDS FAITH...
1. Faith in the power of the gospel
a. To save souls - Ro 1:16-17
b. To produce souls that have been born again - 1 Pe 1:22-25
2. Faith in the power of the Lord
a. To open doors for His prepared servants - 1 Co 16:8-9;
b. To impower His servants wanting to do His will - Ph 4:13;
D. OUR VISION NEEDS BOLDNESS...
1. A virtue displayed often by the early Christians - Ac 4:13;
9:27; 13:46; 14:3; 19:8; 28:31
2. For which they prayed and solicited prayers - Ac 4:29,30;
3. A boldness based upon our hope in Christ - 2 Co 3:12
4. To say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said,
despite the circumstances - 1 Th 2:2
E. OUR VISION NEEDS PERSISTENCE...
1. Not losing heart, for we shall reap in due time - Ga 6:9
2. Always abounding, knowing that our labor is not in vain - 1 Co
-- Many visions are never realized because people give up too
1. Not all "vision" is good...
a. Some have "tunnel vision" - focusing on small and often
insignificant problems in the church
b. Some have "visions of despair" - seeing only the negative, never
2. But a vision that has...
a. A grand scope worthy of its mission (saving souls)
b. Specific steps to accomplishing its goal (teaching others)
c. Faith in the Lord and in His word
d. Boldness and perseverance in carrying it out
...such a vision is what the people of God need today!
Is this your vision? Or have you allowed yourself to have "tunnel
vision" or a "vision of despair"? How much better to heed the words of
"Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields,
for they are already white for harvest!" (Jn 4:35)
Note: The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by Gary Henry. The URL for his web site containing many
excellent articles and sermon outlines is: http://www.brasstacks.org
──《 Executable Outlines》