The Vision

"When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them...we ran a straight course."

The Vision given to Paul led to a world-changing event, the introduction of the gospel to Europe. From what is now Turkey, Paul headed to northern Greece. Alexander the Great had launched his invasion of the world from Macedonia, and Paul would begin a spiritual conquest from the same location. The world has never been the same.

The Vision is not just a good idea, it is God's idea. Paul had been "forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia." v.6

On another occasion Paul and his team were "trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them...they came down to Troas." v. 7-8

These two encounters with the The Spirit give one pause. Certainly the people of these regions needed to hear the gospel, but in The School of Obedience, an existing need does not constitute a pressing call. Paul desired to go to Asia and into Bithynia, but God's call is not about personal preferences. It is about death to self.

Note to self: Never go anywhere God doesn't send you. Whenever God's Spirit calls, or where ever He leads, don't hesitate. Respond immediately. The answer is always, "Yes, Lord."

"A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' " v. 9

Certainly the people of Asia and Bithynia needed help. It was just not Paul's call to meet their need. It was God's call to make, not his. Paul listened and obeyed.

In this age of church planting, and rising passion to add starting a church to one's pastoral Bucket List, the wise will listen to what The Spirit says, before they put an unreached people group or a metropolitan area on their "To Do List." There is no lonelier feeling in the world than to be in a place God never put you. There is no more fulfilling place to be than where He calls you. Choose wisely.

One of my early missionary heroes was Wimpee Harper, who served in Nigeria, and East Africa. He drowned while swimming with his children in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Tanzania, near the city of Dar Es Salaam. He is quoted as having said, "No matter where God calls you, the safest place in the world is right in the center of God's will." I stopped by his grave in East Africa in 1974. His death seemed untimely then, and still does today. He went where he was called, and left the results up to God. In God's value system, obedience trumps accomplishment.This only happens...EVERY TIME.

At this juncture, two men joined Paul on his mission, Timothy and Luke. Timothy is introduced by, "And a disciple was there, named Timothy." Luke, the author of Acts, is introduced by, "we." Both become invaluable parts of Paul's team. They shared Paul's vision, and came along side of him to assist him with it.

Vision is insight, and foresight, not hindsight. The naysayers and the second guessers are only gifted with the latter. Vision is birthed in the hearts and minds of people whose voices are familiar in Heaven, and who have become familiar with The Voice of Heaven.

People of vision have learned to discern between a good idea, and God's best. It is not always easy to see what God has in mind, and as any reader of Acts can attest, clear vision is sometimes clarified by walking into a couple of closed doors. The wise person will not kick them in, or blow them open, but turnaround and look for the door God has already opened. Paul did that. We should too.

Satan isn't the enemy of the good, as much as he is the enemy of God's best. If he can get people to settle or be consumed with occupying themselves with the good, and miss God's best, it is a victory for him. The tragedy is not that good was done, but that the best was missed.

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”

― John Greenleaf Whittier

Some, like Timothy and Luke are called by God to come and help another person see the vision of God fulfilled. This call shouldn't be seen as a slight or an assignment to play second banana. The Vision belongs to God, not to any one man, woman, or denomination.

There are always those who try to hijack The Vision. The closer they get to it, they begin to think it belongs to them. This sometimes happens to the person God first called to hold onto The Vision, but helpers are not immune from turning into hijackers. Those who are holders or helpers should remember one thing, The Vision belongs to God. Don't play with fire. You are going to get burned.

As Dana and I prepare to launch THE RENEWAL: Columbia, SC, we are honored to come alongside of David and Cindy Lane to see what God has in store for the pastors and people of South Carolina. God has given the Lanes a vision to mobilize the pastors of this nation to raise up an army of Christian citizens who will pray for the next Great Awakening and secure Religious Liberty. The by-product of The Vision is a restoration of a our national Judeo-Christian heritage, and a Christian culture in America. This morning, we are praying and trusting God to launch something in Columbia that only He can get credit for, and man cannot explain. Please be praying with us. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!