by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Summary: Many Christians live out their lives just existing from day to day. They have no personal vision, no sense of a divine summons or leading from God. In this sermon, Pastor Feeney outlines bible principles that will enable you to develop a meaningful and accurate personal vision from the Lord for your life.
Proverbs 29:18a, KJV Where there is NO VISION, the people perish.
•• Strong’s Concordance defines “vision” as “a sight (mentally), i.e., a dream, revelation, or oracle: — vision”.
•• A big lack in many Christians’ lives — no personal vision.
• Vision motivates us.
• Vision gives us direction, not aimless effort.
• Vision is something that “matters” to us.
• Without it, we “perish”. We get fatigued in our walk with God ... demoralized ... living with no sense of meaningful purpose.
• So we see that developing vision for our lives is an issue of significant importance.
Amos 8:11-13 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.  Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.  In that day the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst.”
•• Men and women were staggering, wandering, and fainting. Why? They had no vision, but rather a famine of hearing the words of God.
• Notice their aimlessness. Why? because of their lack of hearing the words of God.
• Many Christians wander and stagger around because they are in churches that do not teach the word of God. Find the exit if you are in a church that does not actively preach God’s word.
1 Samuel 3:1, 19-21 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions....  The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD.  The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
•• “The word of the Lord was rare ... [KJV] no open vision.”
• Solution? God gave them a prophet.
• As a young Christian I had the privilege of growing up in the Lord in Alaska under genuine prophetic ministry.
Habakkuk 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
•• Your personal “vision” may tarry. But if it is real, don’t get discouraged; it will “surely come”.
• Fifty years ago a Catholic priest, perhaps unwittingly, prophesied to my mother: “Jimmy’s going to be a minister some day.”
• At the time I was a young child in the Catholic Church. Mom never told me about the priest’s word until decades later. But true to the personal vision from the Lord, some twenty years later I was a minister in a Pentecostal church in Alaska! That was a far cry from the lawyer or businessman that many had expected me to be.
Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.
•• Beware of a false vision to mislead your energies and your sincere efforts for God.
• I recall a married couple that I knew many years ago. Four ladies in a prayer meeting “prophesied” that the couple would become apostles. This was a false vision, and the couple never showed any evidence of apostolic ministry. However, they ran with this false vision for years, unrealistically expecting to be recognized as apostles.
• Our own hearts and the “delusions of our own minds” can mislead us. As a newly born-again Christian, I felt that I was being called to be an evangelist. I felt it sincerely, but I was wrong. I held a false vision. It became soon clear that my calling was actually as a local church-based bible teacher.
HOW THEN DO I GET A VISION?
Psalms 119:105, 130 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path....  The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
1) God’s word, the bible, will illuminate you. It will become a lamp to light your path, to give you understanding and guidance and direction.
Acts 10:9-10, 19-20 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.  He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance....  While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
2) Prayer — Prayer can lead to “a vision”. Here, Peter was led to open the Gospel to the Gentiles!
• While I was a minister in a church in Alaska, six months of prayer led to a revelation in 1988 that I was called to plant a church in Medford, Oregon. That personal vision came after prolonged prayer. [Postscript: We did plant that church, and I pastored it for 17 years.]
Acts 13:1-4 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers ...  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.  The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.
3) Prophecy — When I was sent out with a church-planting team in 1989 to begin the Medford church, an elder in the sending church prophesied specific things that came to pass precisely as prophesied.
• That prophecy helped me to formulate a coherent “vision” for certain things in the ministry in Oregon.
Romans 8:14 ...those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
4) Direct revelation by the Holy Spirit.
• In 1979 I felt that I had discerned a personal vision from God to take a church-planting team to New York to pioneer a church there. My pastor received the same basic revelation directly from the Lord, which served as confirmation to me. We were both independently “led by the Spirit” to the same conclusion!
Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
5) The multitude of counselors (KJV) provide safety.
• Two different mature ministers spoke to me in 1971 that they believed God’s call upon me was that of a bible teacher. That confirmed what the Lord had been putting in my heart, thus providing three consistent witnesses to the same conclusion.
Proverbs 29:18a, KJV Where there is NO VISION, the people perish...
In sum, how do we get a personal vision?
• The WORD of God will light and direct your path.
• PRAYER. God often gives vision in response to it.
• Personal PROPHECY, properly given and carefully evaluated.
• DIRECT REVELATION by the Holy Spirit.
• In the MULTITUDE of trustworthy COUNSELORS.
May the Lord use these biblical principles to help you discern from God a personal vision for your life.
©2004, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.