Where there is no vision, the people perish.
If your vision dies, you die.
The renowned blind lady Helen Keller when asked what is worse than being blind replied:
“To be able to see and have no vision”
Regeneration is needed before one can see spiritually and only then can we truly talk about vision.
Though seeing they do not see, though hearing, they do not hear…
Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into the hole. Note he did not say there may be a hole or they may fall in, there is a hole and they will fall in. (That is the future of self-righteous religious people and all who follow them)
Barnes commentary. God often suffers one man to lead many to ruin. A rich and profligate man, an infidel, a man of learning, a politician, or a teacher, is allowed to sweep multitudes to ruin. This is not unjust, for those who are led are not compelled to follow such people. They are free in choosing such leaders, and they are answerable for being led to ruin.
It is interesting to note that when the Lord opened (Saul’s) Paul’s spiritual eyes he made him physically blind for 3 days. The seen often hinders us from seeing the unseen.
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked." I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
Once we have spiritual sight we then have the choice of what to set our eyes on.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame.
2 Corinthians 4:18.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.”
And now compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardship are facing me. However I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
What a vision, hardship/ suffering….
Sometimes the vision God has for us is not very appealing to the flesh.
When Paul was shipwrecked he prayed and the Lord spared all on board, but Paul was headed for Rome, for imprisonment and ultimately for beheading.
..for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ .. I want to know Christ and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.. Not that I have already obtained all this.. But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me.. forgetting what is behind… I press on toward the goal.. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.
Yet the suffering that lay ahead was revealed to him by the lord and even at his conversion the Lord spoke of it to Ananias.
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Agabus warned Paul publicly but Paul had already been informed by the Holy Spirit.
A prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, in this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.. We pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered.. I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Peter’s vision of the sheet coming down from heaven. Acts 10:9-20.
John’s vision of the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:1-2.
Vision’s must be weighed against “The Word of God” or we could end up like the Mormons.
3 Questions that are asked in the business world when casting vision.
What do we do?
For whom do we do it?
How do we excel? (Some word this one how do we beat or avoid competition?)
It is very important to remember that the Church is not a business and should not be run on business principles, but the Word of God. This is a trap that many of the modern day mega churches have fallen into.
Remember the ministry I gave on who are you and what are you doing.
We saw that who we are is far more important than what we do, and in fact what we do should flow from a life that is surrendered to Christ.
Now activity, busyness and involvement in ministry is not evidence of a persons spirituality, you can see in Matthew 7 that there will be those who say Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in your name and cast out demons and performed miracles and he will say depart from me you workers of iniquity, I do not know you.
But having said that, if you are a true disciple of Christ, it will be seen by what you do.
So I want to pose a question to you. What are you doing? What is your Ministry?
Our church was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members, Someone Else.
Someone's passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Someone Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years, Someone did far more than a normal person's share of the work.
Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone's list, "Let Someone Else do it." Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results; "Someone Else can work with that group."
It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most liberal givers in our church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference.
Someone Else was a wonderful person; sometimes appearing superhuman. Were the truth known, everybody expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone! We wonder what we are going to do. Someone Else left a wonderful example to follow, but who is going to follow it? Who is going to do the things Someone Else did?
http://ericmroberts.com/ 2011/ 08/ somebody-else/ somebody-else
There is a clever young fellow named “Somebody Else”,
there is nothing this fellow can’t do.
He is busy from morning ’til way late at night,
just substituting for you.
You’re asked to do this, and asked to do that,
and what is the ready reply?
“Get somebody else, I’m too busy,
he can do it much better than I!”
There’s so much to do in our service,
so much and the workers so few,
And “Somebody else” is weary and worn,
just substituting for you!
So the next time you’re asked to do something worthwhile,
come back with this ready reply.
If “Somebody else” can lend time and support,
you can bet your last dime, so can I.
The Parable of Responsibility
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody were members of a group.
There was an important job to do and Everybody was asked to do it.
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody would have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought Anybody would do it, but Nobody realized that Anybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody, blamed Somebody, when Nobody did, what Anybody could have done.
Unknown author of condensed version of Charles Osgood’s – A Poem About Responsibility.
Maturity has a lot to do with what we do and the responsibilities we are willing to accept.
I write to you dear children…I write to you fathers…I write to you young men…..
Children need someone to look after them.
Young men can look after themselves.
Fathers look after others.
How do you view yourself ?
Does God have a plan for you ?
How do you view your fellow believers ?
Do you have a responsibility towards them ?
How do you view God ?
Does what He wants matter to you ?
God is not some genie waiting to do our bidding !
God’s pattern or plan for your life.
If you want to build a house you first have to get a plan drawn up, if you want to make a dress you need a pattern to follow, so let’s see if God’s Word gives us some directions or instructions in this regard, but to speak of Jesus as a pattern of how we should live and what we should do is a mental block to some , so we will stay with Paul and see if scripture supports us using him as an example.
1 Corinthians 4:16.
Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son, whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. "><
2 Timothy 1:13.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1-3.
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
God’s pattern or plan for your life.
Paul never glamorized the gospel. It is not success, but sacrifice. It’s not a glamorous gospel, but a bloody one–a gory gospel, and a sacrificial gospel. Five minutes inside eternity and we will wish that we had sacrificed more, wept more, grieved more, loved and prayed more, and given more.
~ Leonard Ravenhill
Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) was a Christian evangelist and author who focused on the subjects of prayer and revival. He is best known for challenging the modern church to compare itself to the early Christian Church as chronicled in the Book of Acts.
“In Scotland, nine miles out of Glasgow, there’s a great big house, a national memorial to David Livingstone. In it there is a model that shows the room where he died, where for years and years he prayed. It’s like some of those houses in India that are made of bamboo and leaves woven in. And there he is, kneeling over a bed, if you can call it that—two bamboo rods with some leaves on it—and a candle flickering there. They said every night he would kneel at that bed and you would hear him crying with his hands raised, “God, when will the wound of this world’s sin be healed?”
He fought the Portuguese slave traders. He did many, many marvellous things. Why? Because he had a Gethsemane of his own. His precious wife died and he buried her in the jungle. And the baby she bore died. He buried the child at the side of its mother. Another child he had died—he buried that one.
But the grief didn’t change his zeal for God. It added fuel to the fire. “The devil’s trying to rob me. The devil’s trying to hinder me.” And he worked with greater zeal. He prayed more than ever he had prayed. They said that night after night his voice would echo through the forest, “Oh God, when will the wound of this world’s sin be healed?”
Dear God! all our pastors are concerned about is adding one or two members! Or getting another bus to bring the people in! I say again, there can be no revival without travail.”
A W Tozer on Ravenhill’s life.
“Those who know of Leonard Ravenhill recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God to battle the priests of Baal on their own mountain top, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet, and to warn the people who are being led astray by him. Such a man as this is not an easy companion. He insists on being a Christian all the time and everywhere. That marks him out as different. Why do we have men of such fiery swords as Ravenhill? They are sick inside when they see the children of heaven acting like the sons of earth. To such men as these, the church owes a debt too heavy to pay.”
Quotes of Leonard Ravenhill.
“Today’s church wants to be raptured from responsibility.”
“The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”
“If weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere.”
“How can you have a dead service with a living Christ?”
“A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God.”
“Men give advice; God gives guidance.”
“Many of us are hunting mice – while lions devour the land.”
“A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men.”
“No man – I don’t care how colossal his intellect – No man is greater than his prayer life.”
“Better for you to have one sleepless night on earth than millions in hell.”
“Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”
“A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning.”
“Let your iniquities be given speech and hiss and torment you until you repent!”
“The only reason we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it!”
“God pity us that after years of writing, using mountains of paper and rivers of ink, exhausting flashy terminology about the biggest revival meetings in history, we are still faced with gross corruption in every nation, as well as with the most prayerless church age since Pentecost.”
“Church unity comes from corporate humility.”
“Nobody else can give you a clean heart but God.”
“Smart men walked on the moon, daring men walked on the ocean floor, but wise men walk with God.”
“You can’t develop character by reading books. You develop it from conflict.”
“I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.”
“One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.”
“When there’s something in the Bible that churches don’t like, they call it legalism.”
“Why is there this criminal indifference to the lostness of men? Our condemnation is that we know how to live better than we are living.”
“The Church used to be a lifeboat rescuing the perishing. Now she is a cruise ship recruiting the promising.”
“The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity.”
“My main ambition in life is to be on the devil’s most wanted list.”
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.”
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.”
“Entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy”
This pattern that Paul calls his disciple Timothy and his other followers to use is very different to the one offered from modern day pulpits, where a success based Gospel has taken the place of the one of self-denial and sacrifice.
God has a pattern for your life and if you don’t follow his direction the mess you make is your own fault.
You cannot omit ingredients from a recipe and expect the same results.
You can even have the right ingredients and make a mess if you don’t follow directions. eg: if it says 30 minutes with the oven at 100 degrees you can do 15 minutes at 200 degrees.
Yet many Christians ignore vital ingredient and directions for their lives shown clearly in God’s Word and blame others and even God when they make a mess of their lives.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:
New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)