By Rodney W. Francis (Founder/Director: “The Gospel Faith Messenger” Ministry,” Paraparaumu, New Zealand)
Rodney is a great friend and encourager for me. I was so blessed when he agreed to do a couple of guest posts on my blog. I use his advice for defining a vision and know you’ll enjoy it as well. Check out http://www.gospel.org.nz for more of his resources.
I would like to share with you ten different things the Apostle Paul did in order to fulfil the vision God had given unto him. “Where there is no vision (“the ability to perceive future developments”), the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). The literal Hebrew translation is, “Without a prophetic vision, the people perish.” People are perishing because, in many respects, they have never seen the impact of our vision. And if we don’t have a vision, then we will eventually perish also. We must have a vision because a vision is life giving; especially a vision that is “born of God” in our heart.
Paul had a vision ~ what we know as “the Macedonian call.” Where was Paul when the vision came? Well, he was in quite a nice little place called Troas, right by the seaside, maybe a little holiday resort. But Paul was also looking to God: “Where do You want me to go from here?” And the vision came ~ “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Macedonia wasn’t down the next street. It wasn’t even just outside of the city. It was right across the seas in another land altogether.
God gave to Paul a large vision!
* What do you do when you get a vision?
* Do you run around being a visionary?
* Do you jump on a boat, or an aeroplane, and become a missionary?
God wants us to be able to fulfil the vision! And you can’t fulfil a vision if you haven’t got one! Let God give you a vision. (I have a vision). The same principles that applied to Paul fulfilling his vision apply to every one of us with the vision we have from God. What are those ten principles?
1. IMMEDIATE RESPONSE
First of all it will mean change. To fulfil a vision you cannot sit where you are, doing the things you have been doing up until now. What was the first thing Paul did when he got the vision? “Immediately,” verse 10 tells us, “he endeavoured to fulfil it.” Immediately! What does that mean? It means that immediately he set about with cutting his links and his responsibilities with the place he was already at. To fulfil it he was going to have to loose himself from all the responsibilities that he had in Troas. And immediately he set about this because now in his heart he had a call and a vision that the next place was to be Macedonia.
2. KNOW THE VISION IS OF GOD
Secondly, he was assured that the vision and the call was of God. This is important.
* How do you know your vision is of God? You can know. God can speak through His Word. God can answer your prayers. The
Holy Spirit can speak to your heart and cause you to know and to understand that which has come into your life is not born of the flesh, nor of self-ego, but of the Spirit of God. The Bible says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). God can confirm it.
Another area of confirmation should involve your leadership ~ your spiritual oversight. This is one of the responsibilities of leadership ~ that leadership should be able to be approached by the people, who can submit their proposals, their vision for their future, their family, their everything (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 20-25). The relationships should be such that they know something of God’s purpose for your life.
In Acts 16:10, Paul, after he had seen the vision, immediately endeavoured to go to Macedonia, “assuredly gathering.” Now those two words are quite important. It is the only place in the New Testament where they are used with this specific meaning. It means this: “to cause to put together, to examine closely, to conclude from laying circumstances together.” So, not only do we hear the vision from God, and can check out the spiritual avenues of confirmation that are available to us, but we also have an added advantage of being able to lay down together all the circumstances that are happening around us. In the light of the previous we can act accordingly, to bring about a positive fulfilment of the vision. If we do nothing about it, the vision will eventually die.
With a vision, we need to be able to look at the circumstances that God is bringing about in our lives, and say, “Yes, God is in that. God caused that to happen.” Begin to lay the circumstances out that are happening in your life. Let us never forget that God is much bigger than our circumstances; He can dissolve, remove or work with or around them in order for us to do His will! He wants to be GOD in us as we fulfil His vision in and for our lives! He does not work in a “hit and miss” way! Paul was assured that the vision was of God. That gives you confidence to do something about it.
3. A VISION FOR THE FURTHERANCE OF THE GOSPEL
Thirdly, Paul believed the call, the vision, was for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Verse 10: “Assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them.” The Christian vision must always involve the ongoing preaching of the Gospel. We must always put the preaching of the Gospel in the forefront of our spiritual vision, because without the preaching of the Gospel the people will perish. God wants us to always have a great emphasis on the preaching of the Word of God ~ and the quickening voice of the Holy Spirit. It is Good News!
4. CUT OFF THE HINDRANCES
Fourthly, what did he do? He then cut off “his ties” with the present place he was at. How many times do we hear people say they have had the call of God and then allow circumstances, homes and family, jobs, personal interests . . . so many things to get in the way? The vision is hindered ~ and the vision dies. Christian, in these days we have to hold on to this world’s goods lightly, to hold on to the possessions of this life with an “open hand,” so that if God wants them, He gets them. So many people miss God because they cannot “cut the ties” with the things that hold us back from moving on in God and fulfilling our vision.
5. A STRAIGHT COURSE
Fifthly, we read in verse 11: “We came with a straight course.” Is that the kind of life we live? We have a vision, our eyes are upon it and nothing is going to “side-track” us ~ nothing to going to cause us to waiver? We have a vision in our life that is born of God and, with a “straight course” we are pursuing it? That’s the type of life-style we need to have ~ running a straight course! God wants us to have the excitement of a vision being lived out and fulfilled within each of our lives.
* To know we are going somewhere in God!
* To know that God will not leave us, nor forsake us, nor let us down in the pursuing of our vision. He has set a straight course for us in order that we may fulfil it.
Rodney Francis is the Founder and Director of “The Gospel Faith Messenger” Ministry” For Bible Studies, books, manuals, tapes, videos and information, contact http://www.gospel.org.nz