Summary: Without a vision the people perish. They perish because their heavenly vision is overpowered by their worldly vision. What is the price you will accept to lose the promises of God?
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish…" - I believe that the biggest reason that many begin serving the Lord; then they will revert to their old lifestyle is that their vision for the wonderful promises in God’s Word has faded. Satan blinds men to reality of eternity. There is a real Heaven to gain and a real Hell to shun. Why are so many choosing the broad way to Hell’s flames?
Acts 26:19, "Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:"
As Paul stood before King Agrippa, expounding to that heathen king the wonderful truths of the gospel, Paul stood there as a man convinced, a man with a powerful vision, a man with a strong conviction, a man who had counted the cost of his salvation, both from the view of Jesus’ death on the cross, and in Paul’s own suffering for the cause of Christ after his conversion on the road to Damascus.
Paul was convinced by his “heavenly vision” that everything that he had to suffer was worth it, and 10,000 times over, to win the prize of eternal life in the glories of Heaven. Nothing could persuade him to turn away from the call of God upon his life. No price was too high, no worldly pleasures too alluring, and nothing of this life that had the power to draw Paul away from his mission.
Let me point out to you the conviction of Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
While using the ancient Olympian Games as an illustration, Paul alludes to the fact not everyone who starts out in that race will win the prize. In an earthly race, only those who finish first are the champions while everyone else is a loser.
You rarely hear of offers to make the big money to those who finish second or third, must less those who finish last. Only the champion, only the one who was first across, wins the Gold Medal and gets the rewards that he so desires. While you may see smiles and outward signs of joy on the faces of the Silver and Bronze Medalists, down deep inside they are thinking – I lost, I lost!
Thank God the race for eternal life is not just to those who finish first. This race is one that only requires that we never quit and that we eventually cross the Finish Line!
But what is it that makes those Olympic athletes spend their entire lives preparing for maybe just one shot at the Gold? Year after year, day in and day out, in all types of weather, whether they are well or ill, no matter what – they are punishing their bodies and pushing their physical ability to the outer limits – all that pain and suffering for what? Is it just that little Gold Medal hanging on a ribbon? NO! That’s not all there is! Is it the prestige, the recognition, or the big advertising contracts? Perhaps that is a small part of the driving force behind their efforts, but I don’t think that is the real reason!
So what is the real reason? I believe that they push themselves for one main reason – to show the world that they are the best at what they do, better than anyone in the entire world. It’s the satisfaction of knowing that they accomplished their lifelong dream.
Looking at the power of their dream we can begin to get just a small glimpse of what should be the driving force behind, not just Paul, but every born again Child of God!
What is it that drives you to serve Jesus? What makes you get out of bed on Sunday morning or get dressed on a Wednesday evening and make the effort to get to the House of God? What is the reason that you come week after week to hear the same Word of God preached time and again that you have probably heard a thousand times before?
There has to be a reason or you would not come! You have to have some kind of vision, some kind of goal, some kind of prize in mind, or you just wouldn’t put forth the effort.