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                         "THE NEED FOR VISION"


INTRODUCTION

1. Any successful endeavor requires a vision...
   a. The word "vision":
      1) Literally means the ability to see things that are visible
      2) But it also used to mean the ability to see other things
         a) "unusual competence in discernment or perception;
            intelligent foresight" (American Heritage Dictionary)
         b) "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible" (Jonathan
            Swift)
   b. Such ventures as business or politics require "men of vision"
      1) Companies require CEOs with vision, countries require leaders
         with vision
      2) Without the ability to visualize worthy goals and how these
         can be realized, very little of importance is achieved

2. In the Lord's work, we desperately need an elevated vision of what
   it is all about...
   a. We need greater goals (what can be done) and greater objectives
      (how it can be done)
   b. Jesus certainly had a great vision:  the saving of souls! - cf.
      Mt 9:36-38; Jn 4:35
   c. We need to have visions that are worthy of the "King of kings and
      Lord of lords"

[What can help us to elevate and enlarge our vision in the Lord's work?
Let's first notice how an inadequate vision can actually stifle our
work...]

I. TWO WAYS OUR VISION CAN BE INADEQUATE

   A. AN ILLUSTRATION OF AN INADEQUATE VISION...
      1. Suppose a man is driven by the "vision" of "making as much
         money as possible"
      2. Two things may keep him from making as much money as he should
         a. He may be limited in his idea of what is "a lot of money"
         b. He may never make any specific plans other than have the
            vague notion of "making as much as possible"
      3. His problem?  His vision:
         a. May be too small concerning what can be done
         b. May be too general without any plan for what he can be
            doing now to make his vision a reality

   B. OUR VISION OF THE LORD'S WORK MAY LIKEWISE BE INADEQUATE...
      1. We may have the vision of "teaching as many people the gospel
         as possible"
      2. A noble vision on the surface, but we might by afflicted by
         the same shortcomings:
         a. We may think too small concerning what can be done
         b. We may think too generally about what we should be doing

   C. THE PROBLEM OF A VISION THAT IS TOO GENERAL...
      1. No dream has ever been achieved except by someone who dared to
         flesh it out in terms of the specifics necessary to make the
         dream a reality
      2. For example, it is fine to plan:
         a. To go to heaven
         b. To serve the Lord faithfully
         c. To do the work of evangelism
      3. But how do we do such things?
         a. By what means do we get those results?
         b. What specific, measurable actions will take us where we
            want to be?
         c. How much time, effort, and money will it take?
      -- We need to see our vision of the Lord's work in concrete terms
         of things we can actually do...and plan specifically how much
         of them we are going to do!

   D. THE PROBLEM OF A VISION THAT IS TOO LITTLE...
      1. When we do think specifically about the Lord's work, we often
         fail to set our sights high enough
         a. Perhaps we are hindered by our past experience
            1) Personal efforts made in the past may have not born
               fruit
            2) Congregational efforts did not seem to go anywhere
         b. Perhaps we have been fed a steady diet of defeatism
            1) Told by others that people are not interested in
               spiritual matters anymore
            2) Telling ourselves that people are not interested
      2. With small visions, many churches and individuals seem content
         with:
         a. Just "keeping house for the Lord"
         b. Just an occasional conversion, usually involving our
            children or spouses
      -- With the limited vision of many churches, little is done and
         little is accomplished

[I believe the Lord intends greater things for His church, especially
for those servants with a willingness to work (cf. Mt 13:31-33; 1Co
16:8-9; Re 3:8).  What does a vision worthy of our Lord's work
require?  Perhaps the following thoughts might be a step in the right
direction...]

II. WHAT OUR VISION NEEDS

   A. OUR VISION NEEDS TO BE GREAT...
      1. E.g., to double in attendance every year
      2. E.g., to spread the gospel to thousands in our community each
         year

   B. OUR VISION NEEDS SPECIFIC ACTION-STEPS...
      1. To double in attendance every year:
         a. Invite two people a week; by the end of the year you will
            likely have a least one attending regularly
         b. Provide transportation to people who can't drive; is the
            value of a soul not worth what time or effort might be
            involved? - cf. Mt 16:26
         -- If each person succeeded is just getting one person to come
            regularly, the attendance would easily double
      2. To spread the gospel to thousands in our community each year:
         a. Give a tract to one person per week
         b. A congregation of 50 would share the gospel with more than
            2500 people per year
         -- How does that compare to the past year, where no vision was
            present?

   C. OUR VISION NEEDS FAITH...
      1. Faith in the power of the gospel
         a. To save souls - Ro 1:16-17
         b. To produce souls that have been born again - 1Pe 1:22-25
      2. Faith in the power of the Lord
         a. To open doors for His prepared servants - 1Co 16:8-9;
            Re 3:8
         b. To impower His servants wanting to do His will - Php 4:13;
            Ep 3:16,20

   D. OUR VISION NEEDS BOLDNESS...
      1. A virtue displayed often by the early Christians - Ac 4:13;
         9:27; 13:46; 14:3; 19:8; 28:31
      2. For which they prayed and solicited prayers - Ac 4:29,30;
         Ep 6:19-20
      3. A boldness based upon our hope in Christ - 2Co 3:12
      4. To say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said,
         despite the circumstances - 1Th 2:2

   E. OUR VISION NEEDS PERSISTENCE...
      1. Not losing heart, for we shall reap in due time - Ga 6:9
      2. Always abounding, knowing that our labor is not in vain - 1Co
         15:58
      -- Many visions are never realized because people give up too
         soon!

CONCLUSION

1. Not all "vision" is good...
   a. Some have "tunnel vision" - focusing on small and often
      insignificant problems in the church
   b. Some have "visions of despair" - seeing only the negative, never
      the positive

2. But a vision that has...
   a. A grand scope worthy of its mission (saving souls)
   b. Specific steps to accomplishing its goal (teaching others)
   c. Faith in the Lord and in His word
   d. Boldness and perseverance in carrying it out
   ...such a vision is what the people of God need today!

Is this your vision?  Or have you allowed yourself to have "tunnel
vision" or a "vision of despair"?  How much better to heed the words of
Jesus:

   "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields,
   for they are already white for harvest!" (Jn 4:35)

Note:  The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by Gary Henry.  The URL for his web site containing many
excellent articles and sermon outlines is:  http://www.wordpoints.com
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