Vision for success is the next area I want to talk about for this year as we move towards the New Horizons God has for us.
HELEN KELLER WAS ASKED ONE TIME WHAT would be worse than being born blind. She quickly replied, “To have sight and no vision.” Yet look around, our world is full of people who lack vision, who are stuck in the mundane with no hope and no vision for the future.
John Maxwell said, “The poorest person in the world is not the person who doesn’t have a nickel. The poorest person in the world is the one who doesn’t have a vision.”
Without a vision the people perish… the Hebrew word for perish means to self destruct by cutting loose or going off the rails if you like. Hence the ESV translates it as…
Proverbs 29:18 (ESV Strong's)
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
THE FOLLY OF FATALISM
So people without a vision for success just self destruct. It is pure fatalism, whatever happen just happens, and I might as well enjoy what I can while I can. They work in a mundane job, or not at all, and then when the weekend comes they turn to cheap thrills like sex, drugs and drink because it’s the only joy they can find, and they have no dream, no vision for success for their future. As Paul says,
1 Corinthians 15:32 (ESV Strong's)
If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
But without hope, without a vision for success, you’re dying already! Successful people are motivated by a dream beyond what they currently see, unsuccessful people are only motivated by the here and now! They live for the next paycheque, the next holiday, the next Saturday night clubbing. They think they’re alive, but they are really dead inside.
Leonard Ravenhill wrote, “The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer.” Today I want to ignite, or Re ignite, the vision and passion within you. We're not here to play church, we're here to seek God, reach for our dreams and save the world!
THE STEPS TOWARDS A VISION FOR SUCCESS
Psalms 37:23 (ESV Strong's)
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;
I can tell you that if you ask the Lord for a vision, He delights in that, and He can and will order your steps in a way beyond anything you have ever experienced. So what are these steps towards a vision for success?
1. I THOUGHT IT
Everybody dreams, and we all start here. Something flashes across your mind and you say, “I wonder if,” or “Wouldn’t it be great if…” we all dream dreams. Some of our dreams are worldly or selfish, like getting that guy or girl, or buying that house, but I want to talk about dreams you have of doing something great for God. Leading people to Christ, praying for the sick and seeing healing, traveling to missions, preaching, building a connect group or team, running seminars, giving millions away, whatever.
We all experience this. I speak to Christians all the time who tell me they have no vision for their life, for their future. But they can see vision, they can dream dreams and it starts here. The trick is, what is your mind full of?
Colossians 3:2 (ESV Strong's)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
If you don’t read the Bible and pray, you simply won’t know His voice as He speaks to you. Read the Bible Reading Plan daily and watch your mind be set on Him, and then the right dreams and a vision for success will begin to flow across your mind all the time.
2. I CAUGHT IT
The next stage is when one of those visions captures our attention and gets us excited. It doesn’t just fly across your consciousness, you start to imagine what it would be like for this dream to become reality.
3. I BOUGHT IT
This is the turning point, because this is when you couple actions and faith to begin to reach for your dream. It takes risk, it takes courage, but at this point you buy into it, and you put some kind of deposit down on the vision for success becoming true!
James 2:17 (ESV Strong's)
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
So many people stop here. They are not prepared to buy in, to invest effort, time or money to see the dream become reality.
In my life I’ve had to invest time at University to become qualified. I’ve had to invest money to buy a car or house. I’ve had to invest time to become a pastor. No one gets anywhere without buying in, so whatever the dream in your heart, don’t just sit there and look at it… buy in and go for it.
I want to lose weight and become fit. I bought an exercise DVD, but it doesn’t work… I’ve watched it ten times already and feel no fitter. What’s the problem?
4. I SOUGHT IT
The next stage is when you don’t just invest in it, you begin to become desperate for it. You seek it, and you start to want that vision for success to come true with all your heart.
Half hearted, half baked, double minded commitment to Christ and His vision for your life will never cut it! So many people dabble in Christianity, just attend church with no dream for what God has for their future, no hope in their heart to become someone great for Jesus.
James 1:5-8 (ESV Strong's)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Every single one of you has greatness within. If you have a dream or vision in your heart to do something for the Lord, seek it with all your heart. To become pastor here, I had to buy in by giving up some lucrative jobs in my profession. We took a financial hit, but we are prepared to do this because we trust that the Lord will not let us fall, and He has not! But now, it’s not just about paying the price, it’s being whole hearted, totally committed to seeing God’s work here at Ignite grow and become all He has destined it to be.
People tell me to calm down, play it cool, I mean, how much do you want this church to grow. But I will not calm down, and even now I’m getting fired up! You can criticise me all you like, but hey, why not join me?
5. I FOUGHT FOR IT
Whenever you have a dream in your heart for your life, someone will try and discourage you from achieving it, especially if is it taking some time to come to pass. Delay is not a death sentence for a dream!
Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV Strong's)
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
This is the point you need to step up and fight for the vision for success. King Jehoshaphat, facing a vast, overwhelming army felt fear, but God said…
2 Chronicles 20:15 (ESV Strong's)
Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.
Yes you have to fight for your dreams to come true, but not alone, because when you step up to fight God fights for you!
Romans 8:37 (ESV Strong's)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
So if you are discouraged, wondering if your God given vision for your life was a mistake, or you misheard, or if God maybe has changed His mind, then today is the day you say, “I’m stepping up to fight for my vision for success!”
6. I GOT IT
The final stage is when you’ve got the dream, you’re living the dream, you can touch it and feel it. This is where you can rejoice in the Lord because He brought this dream to pass, not you and your ability, God and His calling, anointing and strength. Never believe it’s all about you!
Now once you are at this point, it is not time to stop. This is the moment you seek God and ask Him for another, bigger, wider, deeper, more amazing vision of what you can do in and through Him!
The day I started as pastor of this church 3 1/2 years ago, there was 42 people in the room, and 7 told me it was their last day. Inauspicious start, right? Now almost every week the room is filled to capacity, so much so that we have to do 2 services. Have I arrived as a pastor? Nope, Ignite has only just begun!
Next we look to moving to a larger, better building, with more room and more toilets. Then we look towards planting churches in communities without a strong church, and even then, there is still far more in God for us as part of our vision for success.
Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV Strong's)
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Once you have your dream, dream bigger! Everything else is not worth it, seek God and His dream for your life!
THE POWER OF A VISION
A vision for success from God might stop you self destructing, but it can also empower you and guide you as you go on in life. Remember, delay is not death for a dream, and God has perfect timing because He sees the entirety of life, not just the immediate. God’s perception is greater and His timing is different, right? Pretty much always longer too…
A man was praying and he said, “Lord, if it is true that to you a minute is like a thousand years, then a penny is like a million dollars. Lord, can I have a penny please?”
Sure says the Lord… in a minute!
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Don’t get mad when God takes longer than you want, because He’s not being slow to annoy you, He has a plan you cannot comprehend. If you trust Him and move towards His vision for you, He can and will guide you. If you give up or stand still it’s harder for Him to lead you. The rudder works only when the boat is moving, not when it is becalmed, so start moving towards that dream today! Here’s what vision can do…
1. VISION CAN STOP YOU
Paul was zealously persecuting Christians until he had a profound vision on the road to Damascus
(ESV Strong's) And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
This turned his entire life around, so if your life is not where you want to be right now, the right vision can completely transform your life. Maybe you’re stuck in or coming out of a horrible situation, broken relationship, abusive home or lousy job. Maybe you’ve been away from God or away from church, and have lost your vision for greatness in God. Let God speak to you today and you will kickstart the greatest adventure of all towards the plans God has for your life!
However, you will not achieve your dreams in life by half hearted commitment. Paul gave up everything to pursue his dream. There is always a price, but God is looking right now around this room for those willing to step up and reach for their dreams…
2 Chronicles 16:9 (ESV Strong's)
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
2. VISION CAN GUIDE YOU
Paul, intending to go to Rome, until he saw a vision of a Macedonian man in Acts 16 and it changed the direction he was heading. As you pursue your vision, always stay flexible and be listening to the Lord, because very often your vision for success will change and develop as you are open to Him.
Isaiah 30:21 (ESV Strong's)
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Having your vision for success change is not a sin. Failing to pursue it is. So go for it, but listen and be ready to change and develop what God has placed before you.
3. VISION CAN STRENGTHEN YOU
Paul faced many hardships, but what kept him focussed and moving forward was the vision he had to reach the world for Christ. Stoned, shipwrecked, beaten up, scorned. Why did he keep going? Then he writes this…
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (ESV Strong's)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
God’s vision for your life will strengthen you in adversity and keep you keeping on.
4. VISION CAN STRETCH YOU
Last week we saw that God often stretches us. When you’re stretched, as so many of us are right now, knowing we are moving towards a great vision and destiny that God is preparing for us encourages us to stretch even more for our vision for success.
Philippians 3:13-15 (ESV Strong's)
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
Mature Christians stretch, and what keeps you stretching, what keeps you reaching for the prize is the vision in your heart. Look at your life and ministry. You haven’t arrived, and either have I, there is so much more to reach for in Christ!
Let me finish by asking…
CAN YOU BE HAPPILY DISCONTENTED?
Who are the happiest people? Young people? The wealthy? The famous? No, the happiest people are the ones pursuing their dreams. They discover that by giving themselves to something bigger than they are, they’re giving themselves the drive to rise above their daily problems. If you want to know real happiness, dream a dream that is bigger than you are; find something you can lose your life in.
Luke 9:24 (ESV Strong's)
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
Listen, God has a destiny for you, and it is not to just squeak by in life until they put you in the ground. God’s not saying “hold the fort for I am coming,” He’s saying, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus!”
God’s destiny is one of greatness for you, not barely hanging on until you get to heaven, and it’s there for you if you would only take your eyes off what you see around you and place them on Christ! Take your eyes off your daily troubles, your petty squabbles and your mental wobbles and focus them on Jesus!
You’re not too young, God raised David and Samuel as kids. You’re never too old, God gave Abraham a son at 100, and used Moses to set His people free at the age of 80, and at 85 Caleb said, “Give me that mountain!”
Even today you’re never too old to pursue your dream. Colonel Sanders, discovered “finger lickin’ good” chicken at 70, the same age that Ray Kroc introduced a Big Mac to the world. Picasso was still painting at eighty-eight, and Thomas Edison was 85 when he invented the mimeograph machine. At 88, John Wesley was still traveling on horseback and preaching. Why? Because he had a dream!
Every one of should have a vision for success of something great you can do for the Lord. My job, my privilege, Ignite’s privilege is to encourage you and give you the opportunity to live that dream! You might not think your dream fancy or profound. It might be just to serve in the kitchen, or go to the Philippines on missions, or lead a class in kids church, but all of these are dreams God can answer. So what’s your dream?
You might say, pastor, I don’t even have a dream. I have no clue. That’s ok, you know, because if you seek God you will get a vision for your life in Him. But until them, if you haven’t got your own dream, come and join us in ours. Come share the journey and watch your dream bud out of our dreams here at Ignite.
Please, don’t waste your one and only life wishing it away or settling for second best. Don’t float through your one life wasting it, trying to feel better about yourself. No, you are worth more than that! God says that and I say that!
Remember the stages of your dream… I thought it, I caught it, I bought it, I sought it, I fought for it and I got!
If you have a dream in your heart of something you want to do for Christ in your lifetime, stand up now.
If you don’t have a dream, I want you to come to the front and let us pray with you. Even if you don’t attend this church, I can’t just let you walk away without a vision for your life.