Summary: Five outlooks to help adjust the focus of your vision. Fourth and final sermon in the series, "Dreaming Big for God."
"Dwight had one goal when he arrived as a teenager in Chicago - to accumulate a fortune of $100,000. Working night and day, he threw himself into his quest.
Dwight also ran a Sunday school program at his church because he was primarily interested in the prestige that came from racking up big attendance numbers. Then one day, one of his teachers was absent, so Dwight had to take the teacher’s class of teenage girls.
He had a terrible time. The girls were unruly and undisciplined. They laughed at his face. He wanted to throw them out and tell them never to return.
The following week this teacher came to Dwight, looking extremely pale and upset. It turned out that he was suffering from tuberculosis.
Dwight told him that he could understand why he was depressed, since he was on the brink of death. "No, that’s not what has upset me," the teacher replied. "I know that when I die I’ll be going to heaven. No, what upsets me is the girls in my Sunday school class - after all these months of teaching them, not one of them has received Jesus. I can’t bear the thought of dying without that happening."
Dwight had never heard anyone talk like that before. Moved by this teacher’s concern for his students, he said, "How about if I drive you around in my carriage, and we’ll visit each girl individually and tell them about Jesus?"
That’s what they set out to do. At the first house, the teacher was barely able to climb the stairs due to his illness. The two men talked to the teen about Jesus, and this time there was no laughing - instead, she prayed to receive Christ as her forgiver and leader.
They drove to the next girl’s house - and the same thing happened. And at the next and at the next. They went out the following day, and the same thing happened again and again.
Finally, after 10 days, the dying teacher came into Dwight’s shoe shop, his face shining. "The last girl in my class has yielded herself to Christ," he announced joyfully.
Together, they celebrated as never before! Since the teacher was leaving the next day to go home to New York to die, Dwight called all the girls together. Later, he said that it was a meeting that kindled a fire in my soul that has never gone out."
These children, newly adopted into God’s family, gathered around their dying teacher and read the words of Jesus, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house, there are many rooms..."
They sang hymns and then knelt while Dwight prayed. But as they were rising, one girl spontaneously began praying for her teacher - and then another and another. They were prayers of thankfulness for God’s influence on his life, prayers of thanksgiving that his eternity in heaven was assured. Dwight had never seen anything like it - these children were turning around and ministering to their teacher in his time of need.
As he was leaving, Dwight said to himself, "Oh God, let me die rather than lose the blessing I received tonight."
Dwight’s life was changed that day. In light of all he had seen, his dream of stockpiling $100,000 lost its allure. "I got a taste of another world," he said.
Today, we remember Dwight L. Moody as the 19th Century world-renowned evangelist God used to bring countless people to faith. It’s a name that would have been lost to history if he’d been content to merely pursue the lesser dreams of this world - dreams that pale in comparison to the daily adventure and rewards of reaching people with the eternity-altering message of Christ.
So let me ask: What’s seizing your imagination these days?"
(Lee Strobel in Outreach Magazine, May/June 2005)
Here’s what seized the imagination of a first century great heart:
Acts 16:9-10 (NLT) - That night Paul had a vision. He saw a man from Macedonia in northern Greece, pleading with him, "Come over here and help us." 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, for we could only conclude that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
At first you might not recognize it, but this was a pivotal moment, not only in church history, but also in the history of the world! This vision from God was the primary catalyst for the timely transporting of the Good News about Jesus from one continent to all the people groups of the earth!
This vision helped Paul and his missionary friends focus God’s direction for their lives. We all need dreams with that kind of focus.
The Macedonian vision gives FIVE OUTLOOKS TO HELP US ADJUST THE FOCUS OF OUR VISION.