January 02, 2000
A God-Given Vision
(King James Version) Where there is no vision, people perish.
But to he who keepeth the law, happy is he.
(New International Version) Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Think of the blessings we have enjoyed in this millennium. Go back a thousand years and who knew anything about the land that would be called America? Go back one hundred years and living was much simpler but in other way is far more difficult than it is today.
Many of the blessings we enjoy today would not be ours if people had not had great visions of what could become reality Very little of significance happens without planning. The writer of Proverbs makes that clear when he writes, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
What are your dreams for the year 2000? I hope you have some. There is a note of defeat in the statement, I have no plans for the future. I just live from day to day. It is true that Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow. He wanted us to live each day to the fullest, but that did not mean we should not make plans for the future.
While the old King James version of the Bible translates the Hebrew word "vision," the New International Bible translates the word "revelation." It reads, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint." Putting the two translations together teaches us that our vision for the future needs to be based on God's revelation as revealed in His Word.
Perhaps we make biblical teaching clear by looking at the lives of Abraham and Moses. Abraham was living comfortably in Mesopotamia. Then came the revelation from God telling Abraham he should leave the land of his fathers with all of its luxuries, and God would lead him to the promised land where he would become the father of a great nation. Receiving this revelation the Bible says, "So Abram (Abraham) left as the Lord had told him..." (Genesis 12:4) Abraham had a vision based on God's revelation.
Moses lived with his people, the Jews, in Egypt where they were considered slaves. It was a comfortable place to be. All the securities of family living were available for them, but God wanted His people out of Egypt, and Moses was the appointed leader. Unlike Abraham, Moses did not want this position of leadership. But God had called him, so finally Moses accepted the call. It was a vision based on revelation from God which gave Moses the plan to move his people out of slavery to the promised land.
It was on the day Jesus ascended into heaven that He gave His disciples a vision which was based on revelation, "Go and make disciples of all nations." With this word from the Lord the Church of Jesus Christ has been motivated by this vision to bring the Gospel to all parts of the world. God has given us many visions based on the revelation in His Word. He has told us who we are people created in the image of God, who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ when we turned our backs on God, and called to be His ambassadors.
We are God's people with a vision based on God's revelation from the Scriptures. We are not just numbers printed on a credit card. The more personal our relationship with God becomes, the more we are conscious of His will, and this gives us a vision. No matter what our age, God is anxious to give us a vision for life. Young people living in our homes should be challenged to give serious thought to the question, "What does God want me to do with my life?"
Many young people have no idea what they want to do in life. They have been counseled that they only need to get a good general education and the rest will work out. I would be no one to challenge the educators in this advice, for we have seen the value of a well-rounded liberal arts education. But I have visited with many of these young people who are confused and separated when they have a bachelor's degree, but are not prepared to do anything in the real world. I believe that if they were asking God to give them a vision based on His revelation, many of them would be well-directed in choosing work that would be a life-long satisfying experience.
As we move from youth to middle-age, God is anxious to give you visions that will enrich your life. By this time you have been blessed with children. What is your vision for them? Is it to have a prestigious position that provides an excellent income? Nothing wrong with that, but is it a big enough vision to assure satisfaction and happiness. Might it not be well to suggest that they make planning their future a matter of prayer for God to guide them?
He might give them more help than the guidance counselor is able to do. Do you have a vision for your marriage? Does your vision include growing in your Christian faith so that you become a mature witness for Christ and the Gospel? Then come the years where we enter retirement.
These days that we thought would be glorious are not all they are cracked up to be for many of us. Oh, there is plenty of time for playing, but it isn't long before that gets boring. Walk the beaches of Florida and ask the retirees if they are happy. I have found that many of them wish they could be back at their work where there was some fulfillment. One man who had retired from an important job became so bored with life that he is carrying out groceries at a supermarket. It is not for the money. He just needed to be with people.
This is not true for all people, nor does it mean that we have to continue working at a job that requires great responsibility as far as the stockholders are concerned. But I wonder if God doesn't want to use some of those talents even in old age. I recall the man in Florida who, after his retirement from a large eastern corporation, went to work as a volunteer in his congregation. This gentleman was training people how to share their faith in Christ when God gave them the opportunity to do this. I was one of his trainees the night that I listened to this former executive share the Gospel with a person who did not know Christ. It was exciting.
As we completed the visit, he told me that of all of the challenges he faced as a man with great responsibilities in his job, none were as challenging as sharing Christ with those who were lost. "Once I dealt with profits and that was important. Now I deal with the souls of people and that is far more important. God had given him a vision in his days of retirement which was based on the revelation, "You are to be my witnesses."
Let me share my own experiences with you. Retirement from the parish ministry was difficult for me. I truly thought life was over. After a lot of complaining to my wife and a few close friends, I decided it would not be pleasant for me or my family if I continued in this state of mind. I began to make this a matter of prayer and it was not long before God laid on my heart the great challenges that I have in the radio ministry? I had retired from my parish, wasn't it now time to retire from the radio ministry. By no means. This has become a great challenge to proclaim the great truths of God's Word to perhaps many thousands of people each Sunday. We got new personnel in the radio office who had visions of what this program could become.
At the same time all of this was going on in the radio ministry, leaders from smaller congregations who were without a pastor began calling asking if I would preach for them on a Sunday morning. The opportunities there have become so numerous that I have to schedule a Sunday or two every so often to worship in our own church less we lose touch with those people who have been so important in our lives for many years.
I believe that we can also have a vision regarding our death. This does not mean that we run around talking about dying, but that day will come. What will it be like? None of us know but Jesus has given us a vision based on revelation. He has gone to prepare a place for us and one day He will come to take us to that heavenly home. Will we be able to lie on our death beds with that glorious vision of heaven as we breathe our last breath? I hope so.
I would like to suggest that you take a piece of paper and write down your dreams for the future. Then go over them carefully and ask if your dreams are based on God's revelation. If they come only from your thinking, are the dreams big enough? Why not put each one of our dreams to the test to see if they are based on His revelation as taught in the Bible.
If they pass the test, you will have a God-given vision for the year as you begin a new millennium.
Rev. Homer Larsen