August 7, 2016
Text: Genesis 15:1-6
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Can You Catch the Vision?The Old Testament text from Genesis this morning begins with the words: “the word of the Lordcame to Abram in a vision- do not be afraid.” God has a vision for each of us- but before we caneven begin to grasp what that is, we need to have a vision of who God is-to know the strength ofhis power- the depth of His love- how amazing is His grace and never changing faithfulness. Weneed to realize that the same God who brought the whole universe into being with just a word, isable to do in and through us anything he desires if we would just trust and obey. If only we couldcatch the vision God has for us as individuals, as families, as a congregation, as a church andnation, the world would be a different place. Pray.God cast on Abram a grand vision- so out of the box, so seemly impossible that if it were tocome true, it would have to be God doing it. And then to help that vision sink in, God took himoutside into the cool, night air and told him to look up. “Look up into the sky Abram” Godseemed to be saying: “look and see all the stars and dream.”If this scene were made into a movie, the camera would move from the transfixed face of Abramand begin to scan in a panoramic view of the sky filled with trillions of twinkling stars and musicof grand, epic proportions would begin to swell and fill your senses.When Janie and I were training to go to Africa on a Lutheran Youth Encounter Team, I becamegood friends with Dick Amundson, the leader of a team called New Vision (appropriately named)that was going to Papua New Guinea.He shared with me a vision he had of starting a ministry when he got back he would callTentmakers. His vision was that this new ministry would call young men and women who had apassion for youth- train them and send them out into congregations as youth directors- workinghalf time at the church and the other half at a job to help support themselves- much like theapostle Paul did in his ministry, making tents to help support himself.His vision came true- the ministry called Tentmakers grew and placed highly trained youthdirectors in churches all over the United States. In fact, Immanuel had three tentmakers. Dick’spassion was contagious and he was known for frequently asking the question to those he wastalking to: “can you catch the vision?”Throughout history-there have only been a hand full of people who God has called and given avision so grand as that of Abram and a Pharisee by the name of Saul. Men whose lives werechanged and transformed so much by the vision of God’s power and grace and faithfulness thatGod even changed their names- Abram becoming Abraham, and Saul becoming the apostle Paul.
What we need to understand is that when God gives us a vision-what He is really doing is givingus a vision of Himself and his will.Although we may not become a Billy Graham, what God calls us to do is just as important-working together as the body of Christ- the church- to do extraordinary things so seeminglyimpossible that it will take God Himself to accomplish it.God is a God of vision for what could and can be done. And I’m wondering, if we were to have aclear vision like Abram had of God’s power, God’s grace and purpose in our lives, how wouldthat change the way we live? Can we catch God’s vision?Paul, formerly known as Saul- having caught the vision and call from God himself, wrote to thechurch at Ephesus a message he knew to be true not only for himself, but for all of us, saying:“we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God preparedbeforehand, that we should walk in them.” Did you catch that? We are His workmanship- createdin Christ Jesus for good works. What could that be? Whatever it is, we need to remember thatGod does not think small. It is God’s desire that we walk in them-but it is our choice. He hascreated you and I for a higher calling and grandeur vision for our lives than we realize.I have heard people say that you have to have faith. That is true- but faith in what? Our ownstrength? Our own vision? Our own will power? But that is not faith the bible talks about. Faiththat can do the seemingly impossible cannot happen apart from God. The power of God, thegrace of God made known to us through God’s son, Jesus Christ needs to be the object of ourfaith or it will be useless.From the text from Hebrews this morning, it says that “by faith- Abram received power ofprocreation, even though he was too old- and Sarah herself was barren”. Where did Abramreceive that power? It certainly was not because he wished it to be hard enough. It was becausehe considered God to be faithful who had promised him.” Faith is about knowing God who isfaithful and trustworthy- and then expecting the seemingly impossible to become reality.With the vision, God then told him: “I am your shield.” Before we can grasp the significance ofthat statement, we need to remember what a shield does.The purpose of a shield is to protect- and that is done when it is put between the person andharms way. In hand to hand combat, the shield takes the blows of the swords and arrows. FromEphesians, the apostle Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able tostand against the wiles of the devil. Having girded your loins with truth, and having put on thebreastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel ofpeace; and besides all this, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flamingdarts of the evil one.”When God tells us that He is our shield, he is saying that he will protect us- and he will do thatby putting himself between us and the evil one.
What would harm your vision of what God has in store for you? Fear- doubt? Discouragement?Imagine what it must have been like for Noah- a man who God had given a seeminglyimpossible vision and call to do. Building a huge ship far from any water- he was laughed at andmade fun of. I’m sure there were days when it would have been easier for him to just quit,swallow his pride, and admit it was a stupid idea. But because it was God’s idea and not his, hetrusted God who is faithful to do it- and through it all God was his shield.When God gives you a vision for life that might sound out of the ordinary, seemingly impossible,don’t be surprised when the darts of doubt and questions rise from within and from without-rising all around you- threatening to drown the vision God has given you like flood waters. Butwhen that happens- remember-confess- God is your shield. Lift Him up by faith and He willprotect you.We were once as good as dead because of our sins- sentenced to death by the wages of our ownwrongdoings- guilty as charged with no hope, no way out and nowhere to go. But at the righttime- while we were yet sinners- God sent His Son- Jesus Christ to die in our place- to be ourshield- to place himself between us and death’s rightful claim on our lives. Jesus took the blowsdeserved for you and I. By his blood we have been saved and by his stripes we are healed.We have been given new life- a second chance to live for God’s glory and not ours. The questioncomes down to this: are you aware of the vision God has for you? God has a plan and purposewith your name on it. It is customized just for you. And although everyone’s vision may bedifferent from everyone else’s, because they are all about God and His kingdom- they are all justas important- and all just as grand in God’s sight.You are God’s workmanship created in God’s image to do His will. Open your eyes and ears offaith- listen and look up and see and trust God who is faithful to fulfill his promises. God neversaid it will be easy- only that if we trust him to be faithful, he will fulfill his promises. “can youcatch the vision?” Amen.