FULFILLING A VISION FROM GOD
By Rodney W. Francis
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from there to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony; and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women who resorted there. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there. And she constrained us” (Acts 16:9-15, KJV).
DO YOU HAVE A VISION?
We need to be able to individually answer these questions to our own heart’s satisfaction. God has not called us to be “accidents going somewhere to happen.” He wants us to be people of vision, purpose and direction. Having got a vision, how do you fulfil it?
TEN WAYS TO FULFIL A VISION:
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 – the oversight of your church. 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.
6. THEY CONTINUED TO PRAY
Sixthly, as they were fulfilling the vision, they continued to pray. It was not a time to give up and say, “What’s the use? God doesn’t seem to answer any more.”
It is as we are moving in God, as we are going forward, endeavouring to fulfil the vision, that we find God answers prayer. God will release what we need to fulfil the vision, because, remember,the vision is His more than it is yours or mine. God will stand behind His Word and work to back it up! Don’t lose sight of the need to pray.
7. THEY CONTINUED TO WITNESS
Seventhly, they continued to witness. They continued to share their testimony. They continued to share Jesus with other people. That’s the life of a Christian, to be able to open your mouth and to witness to others of that which Jesus has done for you. This is very important. We see in verse 13: “And as we sat down and spake to the women who resorted there,” the result was a baptismal service.
They witnessed effectively.
They witnessed with purpose.
They witnessed with results.
God wants us to be people like that, where our vision produces results.
8. GOD TOUCHES HEARTS
The eighth point was that as they went forward to fulfil the vision, God touched hearts. God touches hearts today. Whatever we need to fulfil the vision, God can touch hearts to help us do it. God will supply the needs and, because God touches hearts, we can be assured that souls will be saved and baptized. Even in jail they continued to fulfil the vision! They continued to see souls saved and baptized. Nothing stands in the way when we obey God!
9. OPPOSITION TO THE VISION
Ninthly, with any vision there will be opposition. We need to be aware of this. There will always be opposition to the fulfilling of the vision of God. It will come from people who are not saved, and it will come from people who are saved. It will come from those who are jealous, and it will come from those who do not understand. It will come; that is why we need to know the vision is born of God. Human nature is such that we tend to “persecute the living saints, and glorify the dead ones!” Pursue the vision with a straight course, otherwise you will find that opposition and persecution will discourage you – and if you get discouraged the vision will die. That must not be allowed to happen. We must get beyond the stage where we are easily offended and put-off because of what other people say when we know that we are fulfilling the vision of God. God will test us as we seek to fulfil His vision, make no mistake about that. But I tell you – God gets the glory out of the end result. Hallelujah!
10. CHURCHES ARE ESTABLISHED
The tenth thing that happened with Paul fulfilling the vision was that new churches were established. There is a great need for churches to be established in God, so that people can see and sense and feel the security of a church that is established, rooted and grounded in the faith of Jesus Christ. A strong church will weather the storms; a strong church will protect the weak; it will shelter those that are failing, and it will strengthen them and minister life to them. A strong church will build the people up. This is the purpose of the vision: to establish people in God (Romans 1:11).
All around us there are people who are hurting. There are people who are defeated. There are people who are discouraged, sad, lonely and/or depressed. There are people who are “living a lie”; and they will continue to live like that until we demonstrate to them a better way. That takes vision! When others come into your presence they should feel your love, acceptance, strength and security. If they are lost in sin they should feel that, somehow, you have got the answer to their problem – all because of the vision of JESUS that burns within your spirit.
HAVE A VISION THAT SEES PEOPLE DELIVERED FROM SATAN’S POWER:
“But rise, and stand on your feet: for I have appeared unto you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto you; Delivering you from the people . . . " (So many don’t fulfil a vision because they are afraid of the people. “God deliver us from the fear of man!”). “Delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send you, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith that is in Me.” Your vision can bring people to the saving, secure place in Jesus Christ where you are. This is the purpose of the vision going forth in our lives. “Whereupon I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:16-19).
It was the heavenly vision in the heart of Paul that motivated him to press on beyond all the odds, caused him to overcome the opposition, and to fulfil the will of God for his life. The result was that not only were other individuals established, but new churches were planted and established because God found a man who was obedient to His heavenly vision. Limitless numbers of Christians have been impacted over the centuries because of Paul’s commitment to the vision and purpose of God for his life.
Nowhere in all this does it tell us we have got to go off for years and “study the vision.” Nowhere does it tell us that we have to have anything else but simple obedience. God wants us to obey! God wants us to be living in such a way that if He speaks and says, “I want you to go or to do such and such a thing,” we would be able to respond with, “Yes, Lord, I will.” There is no substitute for the will of God! None whatever. God wants us to fulfil the vision! How? Let’s sum up:
“Immediately” let us set about to fulfil it.
Be assured that the vision you carry is of God.
Know that it is for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Cut off all the ties that are going to prevent you from fulfilling that vision.
Set a “straight course” and don’t be dissuaded. Commit to the vision.
Continue to pray and uphold it before God, so that God can keep it alive in your own heart and life.
Continue to witness. Any vision of God should make us want to witness more (an “alive” vision gives us plenty to talk about).
Rest assured that God will touch other hearts as you fulfil the vision.
Know that there will be opposition. “Beware when all men speak well of you”the Bible says (Luke 6:26). Don’t expect to get through your Christian life without being “attacked”or “insulted."
Finally, know this, that in the fulfilling of the vision of God we can see people and churches established to the glory of God.