Sunday, January 9, 2011

What's Your Vision For The New Year? by Bob Gass

For the vision... will surely come... Habakkuk 2:3 

Fulfilling your God-given vision depends on having a vision; which calls for waiting on God until He reveals His plan for you. Dedicating time and energy to it; which calls for patience and discipline. Knowing how to overcome obstacles; which calls for good management. The Bible says: 'Where there is no vision, the people perish... ' (Proverbs 29:18 NIV). Remember South Pacific's lyrics, 'If you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?' A vision gives you direction, motivation, creativity and resilience. Without one you become passive, aimless, bored, and vulnerable to quitting. God can give you a vision instantly but its fulfillment will require a lifetime of learning, practicing and managing life's daily challenges. For the next few days let's look at some vision-fulfilling principles:

Visions come with obstacles and opportunities! After decades in America, Raymond Dawson inherited his English grandparent's estate. Returning home he found a run-down farmhouse and barns on land covered with rocks. Disappointed and about to return to America, he decided to walk his worthless inheritance one final time. Pausing on a remote corner of his property he noticed a stream coming from beneath some rocks. He investigated, uncovered some hot springs, and guess what? Today he's the owner of a lucrative resort, right on the sight of his former disappointment! When you ask God for a vision, you're likely to be placed in a field of opportunities concealed under acres of obstacles; a place of possibilities hidden beneath piles of problems. Then He will stand back and watch how you engage in the ministry of obstacle management!

Obstacles can't steal your dream without your permission. Winston Churchill rallied blitzed, beleaguered Britain from the edge of defeat with these memorable words: 'Never give up! Never give up! Never, never, never, give up!' Obstacles are inevitable; quitting is optional! When you walk in faith and refuse to quit, God guarantees your obstacles won't prevent your vision from being fulfilled. Though they were enslaved, Israel received the strength to overcome Egypt's efforts to break them. The story of their survival and success reads: 'the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew... ' (Exodus 1:12 NKJV). Paul's dream of evangelizing the world met roadblocks at every turn. Tightening his grip he declared, 'We are hard-pressed on all sides, but... never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but... never... deserted: we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out!' (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Phps).

Joseph's journey to the throne was a long one. It led him through betrayal, persecution and loneliness. His dream, still alive and unsurrendered, was put on hold for years. Now prime minister of Egypt, vindicated in the critic's eyes, his dream at last realized, he recalls the amazing way in which God accomplished it. '"For" he said, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction"' (Genesis 41:52 NAS). Joseph refused to surrender his dream; it's what kept him alive. He looked for opportunities in his obstacles, and God made him fruitful, not by exempting him from affliction but by promoting him right there, 'in the land of my affliction'. Your obstacles can't stop God; don't let them stop you!

Between your dream and its fulfillment you'll be tested. You'll face some of the same things Joseph faced, like:

1) The faith test. He had to maintain his faith in a hostile environment, and believe in a dream nobody else believed in. He had no dreamer's support network cheering him on, he had to stand alone

2) The patience test. His dream wouldn't happen quickly. A boy at its conception, he would be a mature man before its fulfillment. Every frustrating day he'd have to hold onto it or risk losing it. Patience isn't just hoping things work out; it's persevering and believing what God said. 'Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise' (Hebrews 10:36)

3) The strength test. For a while Joseph's circumstances made the critics appear to be right. He was, after all, in a pit, frightened, alone, in a strange land without family or friends, in prison with an unearned criminal record. He must remain strong in his conviction that his dream was really from God

4) The focus test. With enough emotional baggage to derail a freight train; sibling resentment, abandonment, false accusation and compound losses, he must constantly control his focus. Fixating on his problems and obstacles would have produced disillusionment. Maintaining dream-focus would be his salvation

5) The readiness test. When God finally began opening doors he had to be ready for action! Discouragement or negative thinking would blind him to opportunity. So he kept his spirit and his gifts honed, took every occasion to use them, and watched as God turned his vision into a reality.

Obstacles won't destroy your vision, but your attitude will. After a grueling sixteen month odyssey an aging Paul wrote from a squalid Roman dungeon, 'Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice' (Philippians 4:4 NIV). Paul knew two things you need to know:

1) It's not over till God says it's over. Circumstances and people don't have the last word; God does! He is 'author and finisher of our faith... ' (Hebrews 12:2). With God, quitting is not an option. When you quit without his permission you're 'AWOL'. Furthermore, when you abandon your mission you forfeit His protection and provision.

2) Nothing can defeat you without your permission; and you won't give it. You can't control what happens to you, but you can control what you say and do. That's all you need to control; God will control the rest. You can't control the handicaps, puzzles and persecution that characterize your journey, but you can control whether or not you'll respond with frustration, despair and rejection (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Phps). You can't always avoid getting knocked down, but you can determine whether or not you get knocked out. Refusing to stay down denies your enemy permission to sabotage your destiny.

Do you have a God-given dream? Refuse to quit and it 'will surely come'. Have no dream? Ask God for one. Already accomplished your dream? Ask God for another one before you lose the joy and motivation of life. Have a dream so small it doesn't stretch you? Ask God for a bigger one and watch your faith grow!

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