Summary: This sermon will consider how God uses vision to motivate and mobilise people into service for him.
Have you ever wondered why some people receive visions, or a call concerning what God wants them to do in life, while others may not. We do not know why God gives some people visions and not others. However, one reason why God might put a vision on someone’s heart may be to mobilise and to motivate them into a work for Him, which they may not have considered under their own steam. This is not to suggest that God cannot lead people by his Spirit into the call he has placed upon them, he can.
However, in Matthew 13:7 (NIV) Jesus said ’Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants’. For reasons we may not understand, not everyone responds to the gospel in the way that we would hope. And where there is uncertainty, it may very well be in God’s interest to impart a vision into someone’s heart. From such a vision, a person might be given additional encouragement to undertake a work which God considers important. And this is not to suggest that only the ’special few’ are worthy of receiving a vision from God. On the contrary, God is able to give anyone of us a vision, at any part of our Christian journey.
Obviously, there are many reasons why God imparts vision, but it’s is not the purpose of this sermon to consider all those potential reasons. What we are interested in is how to cope and unpack a vision, which God has given to us. And by examining the experiences of how Joseph coped with the visions God gave him, we might better understand God’s workings in such matters for our own lives.
A Vision Out Of Time
In Genesis Chapter 37 we read about the start of Joseph’s journey with God. It’s the start of God’s revelation to Joseph that God will (in time) raise him up above his own brethren. From time-to-time, some Christians have shared visions that God has given them, some of which have a tendency to be overwhelming. Some visions people receive are often beyond belief, simply because they are received before God has put the mechanisms in place for such visions to become a reality. What is telling about Joseph’s vision(s) are that they caused jealousy and envy among his brothers. Likewise, some Christians have a vision placed on their heart, which receive the scorn of those who are supposed to belong to the household of faith, and should be supportive of those God is calling into service for God. All Christians can, and should serve God, but sometimes God has to use a big prompt, through the mechanism of visions, to move or motivate some people into important, or strategic work for God.
When God gives you a vision, or a call about your future, do not presume that everyone is open and accepting about it as you are. Do not make the mistake of thinking that, somehow, jealousy, envy and competition have all miraculously disappeared from other people’s lives. Such a view of the church of God is naive. Joseph was naive, and rather than letting God bring about his call, over time, he shared his vision out of time - which caused him additional problems. He shared his vision, before he understood either the implications, or the consequences of sharing with those he thought he could trust. He may have even presumed that the vision was for now, which is something many people misunderstand about visions. Visions need to stand the test of time, and they need to be brought into the reality they were intended for. Joseph’s dreams were not for his day, they were for his future.
So what does the opening salvo of Joseph’s life tell us about visions? It tells us that God is the God of the impossible. It tells us that we need to be discerning about who we share details about our call with. It shows us that the call on our lives is not always instant, but a long fruitful journey. It tells us that (sometimes) God’s call on our lives arrives before wisdom enters our gates. It tells us to wait on our calling, and let God make the next move. Are you ready for God’s next timely move, or are you trying to rush to the outcome of your call out of time? Don’t! Learn to be patient with yourself and with God, because you don’t want to kill off God’s vision before it has ever started, because there would be no sense in doing that.
Heading In The Right Direction
In Genesis 37:15, we find Joseph getting lost. He had gone looking for his brothers, but had somehow lost his way. Joseph was guilty of having the right vision, but he was heading in the wrong direction. His vision was from God, but his methodology was wrong. His thoughts were on God, but he neglected his day to day chores, and responsibilities to those around him. When I was a teenager, my church minister told me that I was so heavenly minded that I was no earthly good. I tried to reason that one could be so earthly minded that they were no heavenly good. But my pastor was smarter than me, and (in time) I discovered he was correct. There are two types of wisdom (among many types of wisdom). One type of wisdom comes from God by revelation, the other is learnt over time as one’s hair turns white. Sometime we can either learn good wisdom from a mentor, who has already gone through the trials to get it, or we can learn through our own experiences, especially when we might be unwilling to learn from others.