This week we accomplished a lot in our pursuit o positioning ourselves to receive a vision from God. Here is a summary of our accomplishments with links to direct your to read our posts:
What Is A Vision?
We began our journey by identifying what a vision is on Monday. We saw that there are two primary types of visions: those that prophetically foretell the events God has planned for us and the world at large and those that direct us to a greater relationship and purpose in Jesus Christ. For the purpose of this series, we chose the path of greater relationship and purpose in Jesus Christ as those types of visions are given for everyone to receive. Click here to read more.
What Position Produces Vision?
On Tuesday, we dove into our first topic by looking at the conversion of Saul. In this story we found two men, Saul and Ananias, who received vision from God, one concerning his relationship with God and the other his purpose in God. These men were both in a position to receive vision because they had hearts and minds ready to submit to the will of God for them. We can receive vision from God if we choose to position ourselves in a place of submission to God and His purpose for our lives. Click here to read more.
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Helping Those in Need of Vision
In our Extra Access, we looked at two more people, Barnabas and Phillip the Evangelist, who helped our two men from the devotion fulfill their vision in God. Phillip, through his willingness to serve God completely, brought the message of Christ outside the walls of Jerusalem. His spreading of the gospel led to the conversion of many who he would never reach himself. One of these was Ananias. Phillip's willingness to serve God made it possible for Ananias to receive his vision to help Saul.
Likewise, we saw how Barnabas had the ability to see what others did not see in Saul. He saw beyond the past misdeeds of Saul to see the potential of a mighty servant for Christ. This ability came from a willingness to go all in Christ, even giving up things that were unnecessary for him to prosper in God's Kingdom. If we are willing to serve God in whatever way He offers, we will be able to see opportunities and people we can pour ourselves into. We never know what the impact of our willingness to serve will be, but we know that submitting to God our lifestyle and mindset will not go unrewarded.
How to Submit
In our Briefing on Wednesday, we looked into how we can further submit our lives to God and the importance of doing so. We gave example of how to better submit in the five areas we looked at previously: Prayer, Word, Fasting, Lifestyle and Mindset. We emphasized that being submitted in these five areas positions us for greater vision in God for our relationship with Him and His purpose in us. We also asked for anyone who wanted, to submit further questions or ideas on how to submit to God, which we are still gladly receiving.
Aim For Submission
On Friday, we presented a challenge for our Access members to try and submit their lives further to God. We laid out specific tasks for each of these topics and asked our members to pursue the area that they needed to submit the most in first and then work their way down the list until they had accomplished all the tasks. Remember, being in position to receive a vision from God only takes a willingness to receive from God. These tasks just help us to strengthen that willingness by submitting to His will
This week, we look at the one constant that occurs when we receive vision from God. We'll do so by revisiting the story of Saul and Ananias and how they listened to God in their vision. We'll also look at another story that required a listening heart and what the results of that were. We'll look at ways in which we can listen to God better and hopefully find some activities that can help us open up our spiritual ears to the voice of God. We look forward to having you on this journey with us and hope that you join us for our Access exclusive content throughout the week. Join ACCESS by clicking here and registering or logging in.
Getting in Place to See God Clearly
You travel down the road to Damascus. The sun hangs high and the heat seems to surround you and your handful of soldiers. The only sound you hear in this isolated valley is your horse's hoofs clipping along steady and even.
Your goal is set and your passion is full: you will thresh the followers of this false Messiah from the face of the earth. These infidels would regret proclaiming their new covenant and the deity of the one they call Master. Suddenly, in the middle of the desert, a bright light shines out forcing you from your steed. The light, more luminescent than a thousand suns, forces you to plunge your face into your arms as you cower in the burning sand. You kneel there humbled and afraid in the dust, and suddenly you hear a voice that cuts like a strong wind:
"Saul, Saul why persecutest thou me."
Vision For Our Relationship With God
Saul was not what we think of as the typical candidate for receiving a vision from God. Most people who received vision from God up until Saul were devout followers of God and His ways. They were prophets, good kings and other holy men and women of God. They were in alignment with His plan and purpose and with the advent of the New Covenant, Saul was clearly against God's current plan and purpose. A Pharisees and servant of the Temple in Jerusalem, Saul worked tirelessly to fight against, capture and even kill the followers of Christ. So how can one so out of position in relationship with God be the subject of a devotion on being in position to hear from God? It's because, despite his flawed perspective and purpose, Saul was in perfect position to receive the exact word that God gave to Him.
While he was someone who railed against the early church, Saul was also completely sold out to serving God no matter what that meant. He was passionate and submitted to what he thought was God's will. Saul had searched the Old Testament scriptures, kept the Sabbath, and honored the holy days (Philippans 3:3-7). Having that kind of commitment to pursuing God provided Saul with the opportunity God was about to give him. Let's read his interaction with God:
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:5-6).
Notice the bold and enlarged text there. When God revealed himself to be Jesus, Saul didn't argue. He simply asked what he should do to get into proper alignment. This is a position of submission. Saul may have been a vicious man, but his commitment to submit to the One True God went beyond any preconceived notion or personal alignment he had. That is why God knew he could cast vision over Saul because he knew the true heart of Saul was not in malicious acts. It was in serving what he thought was God's will.
A lot of us are going about doing what we think is God's will for our lives. However, what if God chose to direct us in a way that changed our path and actions?* Would we submit to the will of the Lord and realign our hearts to His true purpose? If we have a heart like Saul, even if we are as out of perspective as he was, we can still find ourselves in a position to receive God's vision for us. We just have to submit.
*Note: God will never direct you away from the doctrine found in His Word. If the voice you are hearing doesn't align with the scriptures, it's not from God.
Three Ways To Start Submitting
We submit by reading the Word of God, praying and fasting all with the mindset and heart to submit to what God says to us. When we read the Bible, it will be with a purpose to align ourselves with God's Word rather than just to find an answer to a problem or an inspirational thought for the day. When we pray to God, it will be for direction in how we can serve God more deeply and relate to Him more closely rather than just bringing our needs and problems before Him. When we fast, it will be to honor God and bow ourselves in submitted service rather than just for the hope of a great revelation or the answer to a big situation. Notice, these three are not about abandoning the idea of addressing God for our needs, solutions or inspiration. They are simply refocusing them to include our willingness to submit. When we include this in our regular manner of relating to God, we will find ourselves in the perfect position to receive a vision.
Vision to Pursue God's Will
There are also people out there who don't have a true relationship with God or really any kind of relationship with Him. However, they have a good heart that will submit to God when He reveals Himself. If we follow the path of the other man attached to Saul's conversion story, we will be in position to help those people just as he helped Saul.
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. (Acts 9:10)
Ananias first response when God addressed him was "Behold, I am here, Lord." The term "behold" used by Ananias intimated a state of readiness. This was a man prepared to do the will of God. He was basically waiting on God to talk to him and send him wherever God wanted him to go. He was submitted. God knew Ananias would do His will before He spoke to him because He new the position of Ananias. We will talk about the conversation that Ananias had with God next week, but we must understand before God told Ananias what to do, Ananias was already ready to do God's will. Nothing else is written about Ananias, but the one recorded action of his caused vast ripples in the history of the early church. Without an Ananias in position, we wouldn't have gotten a Paul who would set fire to the world and spread the gospel.
Are we in a position of readiness when God calls us to a greater purpose? We can be the spark that starts a fire in our communities and regions. We just have to position ourselves into a state of willingness and submission to pursue God's will. As mentioned before, this positioning is done through reading God's Word, praying and fasting with the right focus: a focus of submission and readiness in the Spirit. When we do this, the voice of God will speak into our lives. How it happens doesn't matter. What matters is that we receive it when He does speak, but that is the subject of next week's lesson.
We hope you are enjoying our Vision series so far. Our next lesson won't be out until next Tuesday, but you can get more content in the meantime by signing up for our Access Page. It's FREE and you'll get a lot of great content centered around this topic along with the opportunity to talk back and help shape our conversation. Click here to get Access Today.
Today, we will dive deeper into the stories of Saul and Ananias and see how others were in position to help with their vision and what that means for us. Expect to see this on our ACCESS page in a couple of hours.
What is a Vision?
We all want to know where we are going and what to expect when we get there. To do that takes vision. Vision is the ability to see or observe something on which you are focusing. The clearer your vision, the easier it is to understand and attain your focus. If we want to understand and attain our focused purpose in Christ's Kingdom, it is going to take clear spiritual vision. In the Bible, we find two primary types of visions:
The first type of vision is one reserved for select individuals at specific times. Prophets, priests and princes prophesied in the Old Testament and Christ and His apostles prophesied in the New Testament. Even Mary and Joseph had spiritual visions concerning the birth of Christ and what they must do to be in proper position for it to happen.
People still have prophetic visions today and they have great value to us as individuals and the Body of Christ. However, not everyone is called to prophesy, and we want this study to include as many people as possible. That's where the second vision comes into play.
Anyone can get a revelation of Jesus Christ. Anyone can come to understand their relationship with Jesus Christ and where He wants it to be. Anyone can find their purpose in Christ and His Kingdom. This is not to say that these visions are cheap. They are the most valuable pieces of information we can receive in our lives because they are the word and plan of God expressed to us from Him. There is no more precious treasure beyond our initial salvation.
So how do we get a vision from God? Well, that's what we are going to try and figure out. While there is no magic formula to receiving a God vision, there are some steps we can take to receive God's plan for us in a clear and precise manner. Over the next few week we will look at one man's vision, the circumstances around that vision and how it drove him to fulfill the plan of God for his life. We hope you join us tomorrow as we reveal this individual and start our journey to finding Vision.
If you want a sneak peek at the names of the lessons we will be presenting, head over to our ACCESS Page and sign up to get exclusive content for this series. We look forward to presenting this series and hope it helps you realize your purpose in Christ and His vision for you.
Want to see what God has for you?
Vision, our newest Compass series, will launch soon. We will have a special logo designed for the series on display as well as a list of the topics we are going to cover over the next 4-6 weeks. Also, there will be a special introduction that will get everyone excited about the journey we are about to embark on. We can't wait to start this series as we believe it is going to help us all focus ourselves on God and His Kingdom in 2016. See you soon!
UPDATE: Due to our coverage of BOTT, our Vision series will wait to launch the week after BOTT. We apologize for this inconvenience.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.