Many pastors deliver messages concerning vision during an annual New Year’s Eve service; sharing the direction and vision they believe God has for their congregation in the coming year. It is normally a time of celebration, faith and expectancy as we look forward in hope to what God will do in and through our lives over the next twelve months.
As Christians, our vision must be based upon how we will fulfill the Bible’s mandates and God’s call upon our lives. Through prayer, fasting and consecration the Holy Spirit shares more specific directions for us as individuals, families, businesses and congregations.
I want to share briefly on the subject of vision.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)
Here is the New Living Translation of the same verse:
When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful. (Proverbs 29:18 NLT)
Vision can be related to borders or boundaries in our lives. Vision is like the banks of a river. A river without banks is not a river but a lake or a swamp. Banks provide structure to the water and give it direction and force. Vision, like river banks, does not change the water; it simply provides direction and purpose to the water.
We all need boundaries in our lives and as Christians those boundaries come from God. Our flesh normally rebels against the idea of boundaries; we don’t want to be told what we cannot do or told what we must do. Thankfully that part of us is dead and hid with Christ. Jesus is our Savior but He is first and foremost Lord of our lives and we are to submit to His will for our lives. We are living epistles and living sacrifices here on the earth and we reflect the image of the Lord Jesus Christ to those around us. Boundaries keep us from overflowing our banks out into swamp territory but they also allow us to focus on what is truly important in our lives; providing purpose and direction. Serving the Lord Jesus involves coming out of the kingdom of this world but just as vital is our coming into the Kingdom of God. Salvation is not only defined by what we have been saved from but it is defined by what we have been saved for. Godly vision brings us out of sin and brings us into His will for our lives.
Vision should produce unity, fellowship and community. Vision should produce action, growth and change. Vision should work to activate the fulfillment of purpose or calling. If our vision is biblical it should produce a greater level of consecration in our lives as well as a deeper level of relationship with the Lord Jesus. If our vision is biblical it should produce the fulfillment of the Great Commission in and through our lives.
Vision begins with owning a desire or dream to the point where you move forward with concrete steps to accomplish that desire or dream. James said, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). It is the same for us as individuals, families, businesses and congregations; a wish, dream or an idea is dead until we put a plan of faith and action behind it.
There are many people who have a vision for your life and your life is involved in the vision of other people as well. Not all of these visions come from heaven and we must be wise in our choice and participation in the plans, programs and visions that others have for us.
Here are some of the people that have a vision for your life:
In order for vision to be realized in our life we must agree and participate. We must believe it is right and we must submit to the person who has authored the vision.
Here are some examples of the vision that people have for your life:
God has a vision for your life that includes salvation, healing, deliverance, baptism in the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, helping those in need, holiness, fulfilling the great commission, heaven, etc. More specifically God has created you for a purpose and that purpose is unique to you. As we come to faith in Christ and begin to seek Him and follow His word His vision begins to operate in our lives. The most important part of God’s vision is our participation in it. The Bible declares God’s will for all humanity but discovering the vision that God has for your life individually is a matter of relationship between Him and you.
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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Most of us have an idea of how we would like our lives to go but very few of us have a plan that we are working. Some of us, however, have known for years what we wanted to accomplish in this life. We have goals and aspirations concerning things like:
Having a vision for these things in our lives is not wrong unless we are consumed with fulfilling our plan for our lives instead of God’s plan for our life. Most of our desires (unless sinful) come from being the person that God made us to be and when our lives are submitted to the Lord Jesus in faith and obedience we will find that our vision will begin to fall into unity with God’s vision for our lives.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4)
Some have said that God can give us the desires of our heart because it is He who has given us the desires of our heart. The more we become like Jesus the more our desires come into line with His.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(Helen H. Lemmel 1922)
The devil definitely has a vision for your life and it is comprised of keeping you as far away from Jesus as he possible can. If he has already lost that battle and you have been born again it is his vision to make your life miserable and to keep you weak, apathetic and useless in the kingdom of God. As Christians, we definitely need to make sure that we are not agreeing or participating with Satan’s vision for our lives.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
These three relationships are pivotal but they are normally the easiest for us to navigate. The next relationships we will talk about have the most difficult element in them, people. How we deal with the vision that other people have for our lives greatly determines how our lives our led. The way we submit to one another, relate with one another and work with one another impacts our lives in truly significant ways. So let’s take a look at some of these people.
Unity between a husband and wife is essential to a successful marriage. Having the same vision for the marriage and supporting the plan and purpose that God has for you as both a family and individuals is one of the most important building blocks in a lasting relationship. One of the most challenging factors in any relationship is when there are differing expectations and plans between the spouses. You cannot have a happy and peaceful marriage if there is no unity.
Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? (Amos 3:3)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33)
Trouble begins in marriages when we are moving in separate directions as individuals and are not moving together as a unit. Blessing and harmony exist in marriages that have the same vision and move in the same direction.
Employer & Pastor
I am going to put these two together because in many ways they are the same. These leaders are responsible for a group of people moving together to accomplish a common purpose. In order to be both and effective employee and church member we need to be unified with the vision of the house and fulfilling our role in supporting its accomplishment. One of the greatest challenges leaders of companies and churches face is not having the people they lead “buy in” to the vision of the church or the company. Simply stated, more than one vision is division.
Churches are frequently plagued by division or double vision because many people have good ideas of what the church should be doing and where the church should be going. The problems arise when these visions and ideas differ from the vision of the leader.
The medical term for double vision is diplopia. Double vision occurs if the eyes are misaligned, causing two different images to be sent to the brain. The brain accepts both images, resulting in double vision. Double vision can cause problems in life, including great difficulty in completing the simplest tasks. If two different visions are moving through a company or congregation there is definitely problems and difficulty in completing even simple tasks.
If you are a member of a local congregation there is one vision for that local house and it is the pastor’s responsibility to communicate the vision and lead the congregation in fulfilling that vision. If you believe that the direction the pastor is taking the church is contrary to scripture then you should find another place to worship. If you are unwilling to participate in the fulfillment of the vision of the local congregation by submitting your time, tithe and talent you should find another place to worship. Unity in a church should not be equated with uniformity; unity should be equated with agreement of purpose and direction.
If you believe that the vision of the house is of God and that what is being preached is sound biblically and is evidently producing good fruit (salvation, deliverance, healing, baptism in the Holy Spirit, people loving one another, helping the needy, sending missionaries, etc.) then you should submit yourself to the vision by committing your time, tithe and talent to its fulfillment.
BEHOLD, HOW good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment poured on the head, that ran down on the beard, even the beard of Aaron [the first high priest], that came down upon the collar and skirts of his garments [consecrating the whole body]. It is like the dew of [lofty] Mount Hermon and the dew that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore [upon the high and the lowly]. (Psalm 133:1-3)
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
The same can be said of your place of employment. If you are going to work at a firm and receive wages for your time you should align yourself with the vision of the company. As Christians we should be the best workers and employees in the world. Our lives should be examples to our co-workers and employers, earning us the privilege to share the gospel with them.
Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free. Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them. (Ephesians 6:5-9)
Parents, Teachers & Friends
These are the most challenging relationships in our lives as they pertain to vision. For periods of our life these relationships greatly shape our lives and can assist in preparing us for and propelling us towards fulfilling the vision that God has for our lives. As we mature we must discern where preparation ends and execution begins. This does not mean that we lose respect for our parents, teacher and friends but it does mean that we begin to take hold of our lives and live.
This message is longer than most that I post to the site and covers a wide variety of topics within the same vein. My purpose in writing this message is to encourage you as the New Year begins; you have a purpose and God has a plan. It is up to us to faithfully follow the Lord.
And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by. (Habakkuk 2:2 AMP)
We can know where we are going. We can live purposeful lives of meaning, accomplishment and legacy. It all begins with coming into unity with the will of God for our lives. Jesus places a high premium on unity:
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. (Matthew 12:25)
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 NLT)
Unlock the power of vision in your life through agreement, faith and action. One of Jesus’ final prayer during His earthly ministry was for our unity:
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (John 17:20-23)
- Come into agreement with Jesus Christ and His Word
- Come into agreement with your spouse
- Come into agreement with your pastor and fellow believers
- Come into agreement with your employer and co-workers
We need to recognize, understand, agree with and operate in the vision at each of these levels in our lives.
My prayer for each of us is that first and foremost our lives would agree with God’s vision for our lives. May we have ears to hear and hearts that understand that which He speaks into our lives. I pray that we would have the boldness to act in faith and the meekness and humility to surrender our will to His. May our lives show forth the love, power and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For those of you with great human relationships I pray that they may be strengthened and unified as we discussed above. As Psalm 133 declares it is in these relationships that God can command His blessing.
For those of you who do not have great human relationships I pray for reconciliation, forgiveness and understanding to come into those relationships. I pray that the Lord would give you grace to build and rebuild that which is broken. I also pray that new, godly relationships would come your way.
May this be the best year that you have had so far. May you grow in grace, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, influence and love. May you produce eternal fruit and lead a life of purpose and meaning.