I was in Denver for four days last week. I wasn’t there on vacation or for sightseeing, even though I did see some awesome sights like the snow-capped Rocky Mountains at the end of July. I will never understand how that can happen no matter how many times I see it!

I went to Denver for four days for a special project I have been asked to participate in and to attend the General Assembly of our church. You need to know something about me when I go on trips. I talk to everyone who will stand still long enough for me to strike up a conversation with them. I have found over the years, as I have had the opportunity to travel and speak, that there are incredibly interesting people all around us. I have also found that the Lord will speak to me powerfully through some of these folks if I will only stand still long enough to listen. Let me give you an example.

On Sunday morning I was sitting on the sofa in the lobby of the Ramada Inn waiting for an airport shuttle to take me to Denver International Airport. An elderly couple came into the lobby after they got off the elevator. I noticed that the man had a long cane that he was using to find his way around the lobby and that she was at his side to give him assistance. They made their way over to the sofa and sat down beside me. I introduced myself and asked where they were from. The lady said they were from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their names were Eunice and Gerald Frederick and I found out that they were in Denver for a conference on reaching the blind for Christ. Eunice had a Bible in her hands and I asked if they were going to church. She told me their nephew was a minister and that he was coming to get them so they could attend his church while they were in Denver. At one point in the conversation I asked Gerald, “How long have you been blind?” Eunice said, “My husband was born blind and I am legally blind, but the Lord has been so good to us. God has His purpose for everything and we know that we are experiencing all of this so that we can share His love with others who are blind.” Gerald leaned over, looked my direction, and said, “I was born blind, but I believe that I can see better than a lot of folks who have their sight. The Bible says, ‘The things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal.’ God has allowed me to see things that eyes can’t begin to see!” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Gerald’s words jumped out at me and grabbed me by the throat! I sensed in my spirit that something significant had just taken place and that I needed to pray about what Gerald had said. I thought about his words all the way home on the plane and I have not been able to escape those powerful words since. I met a 70+ year old man who has every excuse under the sun to just sit back and wait for life to pass him by, but God has given him a vision to reach those who lack sight for the Kingdom of God!

Helen Keller, probably the most recognized blind person who has ever lived, once said, “What would be worse than being born blind? To have sight without vision.” I am convinced that the vast majority of our population today has no vision for their lives, their families, or their church. I am also convinced that there is not a single person who has ever committed themselves to serving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior whom God did not desire to give a glorious and gigantic vision of what could be, if we will only pursue His heart.

I want us to spend our time today focusing on “vision” 1) What does it mean to have a vision from God? 2) How do we get a vision from God? 3) Once God gives us a vision — then what? After we make our way through these important questions I want to share with you the vision God has given me for this church. I am excited about what God has done in the past at Britton Christian Church. I am also excited about what He is presently doing at this church. I am most excited about what I see God purposing to do through you and me and others who are yet to come in the future! God has an incredible future planned for this little church if we will only pursue His vision for us.

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (KJV Proverbs 29:18) The word “vision” is translated in different ways in varying translations of God’s Word, but the Hebrew word means, “vision, oracle, or divine communication.” When we talk about a vision or “divine communication,” the indication is that the object, the vision itself, will be something other than what is within our grasp on our own. Let me give you an example.

Esther is one of the most prominent women in the entire Bible. God used her to save His people from the evil plans of Haman. Haman was a powerful man in Babylon and he had it in for the Jews, he wanted to kill every Jew in Babylon.

Many people recognize the name of Esther, but few recognize the name of Mordecai. Mordecai was the older cousin of Esther, but he had actually raised her because she was an orphan. These were hard times for the Jews. They were not in their homeland, they were captives of the Babylonians under King Xerxes.

Through a strange turn of events King Xerxes had set out to look for a new Queen. He was going to search the land to find the most beautiful woman whom he could call his own. Esther was chosen as one of the finalist for the job and when Mordecai found out he told her not to tell the King that she was a Jew.

While Esther was strolling down the runway along with the rest of the contestants for the King, Mordecai was refusing to bow down to Haman. The rest of the Jewish leaders were submitting to this foreign leader and Mordecai’s refusal to bow incensed Haman. Haman became so infuriated that he plotted to kill the Jews.

Esther was chosen as the Queen for Xerxes. At about the same time Mordecai learned that Haman had a plan that he was determined to see through. The plan was for the complete annihilation of the Jewish people. Haman went to the King and convinced him that the Jews were not to be tolerated, that they were undermining the best interests of the country. Xerxes gave Haman permission to do with them whatever he desired to do. We all know what that meant.

Mordecai didn’t give up simply because some King had given his permission to obliterate the Jewish people. Mordecai had a vision. He knew God was bigger than any King! Mordecai had a plan.

Mordecai knew that Esther had the King’s ear and when he learned of the edict being sent out he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the streets to mourn loudly. He drew so much attention that Esther heard he was distressed. She sent one of her servants to find out what was going on and he returned to her and reported the planned slaughter of the Jews. Esther must have had an idea of what Mordecai wanted her to do because she sent word to Mordecai. The word was as follows,

All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king. (Est 4:11 NIV)

Esther, the apple of the King’s eye, the Queen of the entire nation, finds her palms begin to sweat, her heart begin to race, and her mind wondering how she ever got herself into this mess. She knew Mordecai wanted her to go to the King, but she knew the law said that she could be killed if she did such a thing.

Esther was a woman of limited vision, and that is being kind. Mordecai sent word back to Esther. He said,

{13} …”Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. {14} For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Est 4:12-14 NIV)

Oh, I love a man of vision! Oh how I love someone, anyone who will dare to trust God enough to say “Yes!” to the impossible! Mordecai says, “Even if you chicken out and try to save your own neck God is still going to act!” He doesn’t stop with reminding Esther of God’s power to save the Jewish people despite her — he plants a vision in her heart of what God might be purposing to do through her. Mordecai says, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Mordecai planted the seed of greatness in Ester’s heart and she bought into the vision even though she was scared to death. Esther sends word back to Mordecai that shows us how apprehensive she really was. Esther says, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Est 4:16 NIV)

Esther was uncertain of what would happen. She had never been in a situation like that before (and I bet she was praying that she wouldn’t ever have to go through something like it again!) The Jews prayed, Esther was obedient, God worked on the heart of the King, the Jewish people were spared, and Haman was hung on the gallows that he had had built for the Jews. When God gives someone a vision and the courage to pursue it, He will always bring it into reality…always!

Mordecai had a vision from God that was totally absurd. He had no power in a foreign land, but he served the Lord of every land, the King of all creation!

There is a reason why God’s people have visions that burn within them. The reason is this: God is a God of vision. Paul said in Romans, “…The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. (Rom 4:17 NIV) God was calling Abraham the Father of many nations before he had ever heard of Toys R Us or even made a single trip to the OBGYN with Sarah! God saw a King in a shepherd boy! God saw within a young virgin what it would take to be the mother of the Savior of the world! What a mighty God we serve!

The same God who saw all of these things in those of old sees in you and me what no other can see, and He wants to give you a vision for your life, your family, and your part in this church. Let’s take a look at those important questions I referred to in the beginning of our time together.

The three questions are: 1) What does it mean to have a vision from God? 2) How do we get a vision from God? 3) Once God gives us a vision — then what? Let’s begin at the beginning.

What does it mean to have a vision from God? That is a question that has been the subject of dozens of books over the past several years. There are many answers to the question but I believe the biblical answer is this: A vision from God reflects the heart of the Father for His children instead of reflecting what I would desire for myself and others. Let me give you an example.

I might desire for my children to be successful, to have good jobs, and to enjoy life. That sounds sensible, reasonable, and rational doesn’t it? Do you know that for me to have that desire and to press that upon my kids could be the most damaging thing that I could ever do to them? What if God is calling my kids to greatness? What if the Lord desires to use my children to suffer for His name’s sake? That was His purpose for the Apostle Paul. What if God desires to use my children to become missionaries to a people who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ? Do you see how God’s vision for our lives is always contradictory to our desires for our lives apart from Christ?

When God gives us a vision it will reflect His heart for His children. If we will remember that it will help us to avoid much heartache and frustration with the ways of Almighty God.

Secondly, “How do we get a vision from God?” I am frequently asked, “How did you get this vision for Britton Christian Church? What did you do in order for you to be able to become so convinced of what God was wanting to do with the people at the church?” That is really an easy answer for me and those of you who were here back when I first came here.

If you will remember back seven years ago for a few moments. I did not arrive the first day and say, “This is what we are going to do folks.” What I did do was to invite anyone and everyone who felt called to join me in prayer each Sunday night. We came together and we sought the heart of God. We labored in prayer Sunday after Sunday as each Sunday we would ask the Lord, “What do you want to happen here at Britton Christian Church? Lord, what are you doing in this community?” After a period of time God began to speak to our hearts clearly about His call upon this church and our lives together as brothers and sisters serving the Risen Savior. God was calling us to be a “Lighthouse of Hope” to this community. Plain and simple.

The way that we received a vision for this church is the same way that you and I can receive a vision for our lives and our families. We need to humble ourselves before God. We need to come before Him with no agenda other than the desire to hear from Heaven. We need to labor in prayer until we hear Him speak to our hearts, and He will speak my friend. You will sense yourself becoming consumed with a burning passion to become more than you are, to do more than you have ever done, to do it with excellence instead of mediocrity, and to never be distracted by your detractors.

Thirdly, “Once God gives us a vision — then what?” Once God gives us a vision we must never turn back from what He has placed in our spirit and heart. Never stop pursuing the vision! Never, never, never stop pursuing that which God has placed in your heart! Never let anyone tell you, “It can’t be done. You are foolish for even trying such a thing. Give up while you can still preserve your dignity.” Regardless of the criticism that comes your way, regardless of the laughter that may fill your ears, regardless of the condemnation that may be hurled your way — never turn back when God has given you a vision from His heart!

Automobile genius Henry Ford once came up with a revolutionary plan for a new kind of engine. We know it today as the V-8. Ford was eager to get his new idea into production. He had some of his men draw up plans and presented them to the engineers.

As the engineers studied the drawings, one by one they came to the same conclusion. Their visionary boss just didn’t know much about the fundamental principles of engineering. He’d have to be told gently — his dream was impossible. When told, Henry Ford said, “Produce it anyway.” They said, “But it is impossible.” Ford said, “Go ahead, and stay on the job until you succeed, no matter how much time is required.”

For six months they struggled with drawing after drawing, design after design. Nothing. Another six months. Nothing. At the end of the year Ford checked with his engineers, and once again they told him that what he wanted was impossible. Ford told them to keep going. They did. And they discovered how to build a V-8 engine!

There is a second element that is vitally important for us as we seek to pursue the vision God has given us. Once God has given us a vision we must never let people detract or discourage us, but we must also continue to listen to the Lord for His guidance and direction as we move forward.

When Abraham was told that God was going to lead him into a new land, Abraham was curious about where he would be going. God said, “Come on and I’ll show you.” In order for Abraham to one day see that land he had to follow obediently and listen intently everyday.

As it was with Abraham and so many others, it is with us as well. Once God gives us a burning vision within us to be a blessing to the Kingdom and to the King’s people then we must take time, make time, to quietly listen to the Lord as He guides us into His glorious future.

I want to ask you a question now that we have addressed those important questions and given all of us a foundation for how we can receive a vision from God for our lives, families, and our function in this church. What is the vision God has given to you? What is it that Almighty God has ignited inside of you for the Kingdom of God, for your life, for your family, or for your function in the church?

I can’t even begin to name the possibilities there are so many. What is God’s vision for you? Is it for you and your wife to lead other husband and wife teams in growing in their walk with the Lord? Is it to open your house to the lonely among us? Could it be to start a ministry to new mothers? Is it to point your children to the Cross? Is it to have the Lord use your family to reach other families in the church for Christ? Is it to start a new ministry? To visit prisoners, shut-ins, write letters to those who are hurting, disciple young people, work in the clinic, fix cars for single women, make home repairs for the elderly? What is the vision God has given you?

If you lack vision then I want to invite you to come and visit with me. If you have committed your life to Jesus Christ and you still lack vision then you are missing out on God’s best for you. I would love to meet with you and help you pursue God’s vision for your life.

I believe in visions. I know that may surprise some of you. God has given me a vision for my life in my walk with God. God’s vision for Mike Hays, not Pastor Mike, just plain ol’ Mike, is to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ in everything I do. You say, “Boy that is not a very profound or revelatory sounding vision.” It is not how it sounds that excites me — it is where it is taking me that excites me! Since I have embraced God’s vision for my life I have seen remarkable things take place that I know I would have never experienced apart from submitting myself to God’s vision for me.

God has also given me a vision for my family. God has put a burning desire in my heart for my family to be used to bless other families and point them to Jesus Christ. Oh our family is far from perfect, but I want to be able to share with folks that any good thing they see in the Hays family is a direct result of our seeking to allow Jesus Christ to be the Head of our house.

Connie and I share a vision for our family that encompasses others outside of our family. We are convinced that if we focus all of our attention on our family then we will rob our children of God’s best for them. We must allow the Lord to use us in other’s lives so that our kids can be part of an even larger family and share in what God is doing in others.

God has also given me a vision for this church. We are called to be a “Lighthouse of Hope” to this community and boy could I share stories of how He is accomplishing that purpose through you. Recently, I have been focusing not so much on what He has done or what He is doing, but the Lord has impressed on me what He is purposing to do in the future.

I am convinced that God has prepared us like Esther for such a time as this. George Barna says that 3/4 of all churches in America have either plateaued or are on the decline. That is an alarming statistic, a statistic that catches many American Christians off guard because all we see on television are huge, overflowing churches. Most churches are not like the ones we see on television. Most are dying and not knowing what to do in order in turn things around. We can relate to that because we were once in that predicament. God has turned things around, but He is calling us to move forward and be prepared for even greater things.

I want to share with you what God has placed upon my heart and what I have recently committed myself to for the next five years. God is calling us to work together so that within the next five years Britton Christian Church will average 400 in morning worship. That is remarkable, but God deals in the remarkable my friend!

There are some specific things that must take place for us to see this blessing of God come. First, we must pray. I am meeting with the Elders and Deacons tonight and I will ask them to join me each Sunday night to pray from 7:00 – 8:00 PM. Prayer is the catalyst of change, prayer is the catalyst of growth, prayer is the direct line that God has given us to His heart. I am committing myself to pray each Sunday night for the needs of the church.

Secondly, God has called me to personally lead 50 people to Christ in the next year. Sunday morning doesn’t count. I am being called by God to get out into the streets and to share the Gospel with those who are not going to church in order to win them to the Kingdom.

Thirdly, I feel called to begin at least one new adult Sunday school class each year for the next five years. I am already praying about the first one and trust God that it will begin by the end of September.

Fourth, I am praying for twelve new Bible teachers who will be willing to lead a small group outside of Sunday morning. There are so many folks who are looking for a place to belong and God is calling us to make a place for them.

Fifth, God is calling us to challenge and to equip our young people to take a stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to reach their friends. I want one of our young people to take my place someday as pastor of this church and lead us into the next century so that the light may shine brighter than every before for our King!

I am so excited about Ray and Sylvia as they begin their new ministry among us and I am praying that God will bless them in order for them to be a blessing to hundreds of our young folks.

These are the passions of my heart that I believe God has set within me. God has also shown me that for His vision to become a reality it will take all of us working together, laboring side-by-side, praying hand in hand, walking arm in arm, worshipping and seeking His leadership like never before. We must focus on the Cross as God moves us forward into the future He has planned for us. I hope you will commit yourself this morning to pursuing God’s vision for your life, your family, and your place in this church as we watch Almighty God continue to move in such a mighty way!

Without A Vision The People Perish
Proverbs 29:18