Come And See What God Is Doing
SERMON SUBJECT: COME AND SEE WHAT GOD IS DOING
SERMON TEXT: Proverbs 29:18, read from different translations and paraphrases of the Bible . . .
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he”(Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
“Where there is no vision (lit. trans. revelation), the people are unrestrained” (Proverbs 29:18 NASB).
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law”(Proverbs 29:18 NIV).
“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals they are most blessed”(Proverbs 29:18, paraphrase - The Message).
SERMON THESIS: God’s revealed will is found in His Word.
INTRODUCTION: Try to imagine living in a world where there are no Bibles, no churches, no religious symbols, no Christian witness, no Holy spirit, no knowledge of God, no preachers to expound God’s Word, no Christian ministries, etc. If the A.C.L.U. had their way, and those who promote Atheism, we would be living in this kind of a world. We get a picture of a world as described above from the book of Exodus. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, the Bible says, “ . . . the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play”(Ex. 32: 7). When he came down from the mountain, here is what he found a people who were our of control, or as we read in Proverbs, a people “unrestrained.” The Bible says, “Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control– and Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies . . .” (Ex. 32:25). We might ask, What had happened to the people of God? In his book, The Pathway to God’s Presence, Dr. Tom Elliff, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, give the following four signs of the absence of God’s presence in the lives of His people. These four signs, I believe, are absent in the lives of a people who have no vision, i.e, no revelation of God:
1. They had lost their hunger to know God on a deeper level.
2. They had lost a definite sense of progress in their walk with God.
3. They had lost their awareness and excitement about God’s direction.
4. Their spiritual desires were overcome by their sensual demands. They “ . . . sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” They had lost their understanding. That is what vision means. Having lost their understanding, they could no longer see what God was doing and found themselves stumbling over one another. That is what happens when there is no vision. Where there is no prophet to expound the law. No preacher to expound God’s Word. That is why, you will remember, when the people of God moved in the wilderness, the Ark of God, was always out front. Had it not been, the people would have stumbled over each other. They would have lost their direction.
At this point, we must ask ourselves a serious question. The question is simply this, “Could this happen in our day?” “Can a people lose their vision, i.e., their revelation of God? Better still, “Can a church lose her vision?” Can a church come to a place where it can no longer see what God is doing? A situation such as described earlier happened in Samuel’s day. The Bible says, “The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the Word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions”(I Sam. 3:1). Then hear the prophecy of Amos . . .
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread, or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).
No vision is followed by, as Amos prophecies, “ . . . a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” Could it be that this prophecy is coming to fulfillment in our day? One writer said, “The absence of God’s revelation leads to the loss of controls and disciplined living.” You see, my friends, according to the first part of Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no revelation (no vision, no understanding), the people cast off restraint (lose control);
“ . . . blessed is he who keeps the law.” From the negative, we will now turn to the positive in our exposition of God’s Word. Please note, that the word for revelation/vision in the Hebrew is chazon and “normally refers to prophetic visions.” This writer goes on to say, “People who maintain the laws (obey God’s Word) of life revealed by God are blessed, for they have found the genuine meaning of life.” There are three major sections to the Hebrew Bible, law, prophecies, and writings. “All three types of inspired literature seek to bring people to know and do God’s will so they will have meaning in life.” -Disciple’s Study Bible
According to Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Proverbs 29:18b, “ . . . when they (the people of God) attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.
Now for some practical application of our text, we will ask the question, What does vision do? What does vision do for an individual believer? What does vision do for a congregation? Let’s us focus on the latter of these . . . (credit is given to a friend of mine Dr. Larry Michael, author of Spurgeon on Leadership for these practical thoughts and ideas).
I. VISION INSPIRES
1. It brings people together for a common good. You have heard it said, “Where there is no vision the people perish . . . but where there is a vision the people flourish.” In the book of Acts this concept is described as “one accord.” In Paul’s writing, he speaks in terms of unity. Vision inspires and in doing so it brings people together for a common good. In the church, that common good is reaching people for Christ and incorporating them into the body of Christ, in keeping with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20. A good example . . . this year we not only reached our Lottie Moon Christmas offering goal in the amount of $ 3,500.00, we have now exceeded our challenge goal of $ 5,000.00. Praise God! Yes, my friends, vision inspires.
2. The purpose of vision is that it must be larger than any one person. Vision comes from God; is given to the pastor, and owned by God’s people. Since vision comes from God, it is bigger than any one of us. As I shared with our two committees on Thursday evening, “There is no vision on the part of God’s people until our reach extends our grasp.”
3. A God-sized vision can only be accomplished with God’s help. If we can accomplish anything by our own means, and in our own strength it is not a God-sized vision.
And it is not faith as seen in Hebrews . . .
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible...And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:1-3;6).
That which we will be attempting tonight is impossible for us to do, but we must remember, “With God all things are possible.” Know, also, in the words of Dr. Larry Michael, “The vision means little if it does not result in implementation.” Our vision must be implemented if we are to go forward. A decision must be made one way or the other. You will remember that the Jordan River did not open until . . .
“So it came about when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priest carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), that the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabath, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho” (Joshua 3:14-16).
What did they do? They implemented their God-given vision and witnessed tremendous results, and so will we.
II. VISION INSTRUCTS
1. Vision guides. Vision guides by affording us a goal to be attained. Someone well said,“A church that fails to plan - plans to fail.” Where there is no vision, no guidance is needed. Vision provides the instructions for us that we need to go forward.
2. Vision instructs us in our decision making. Every decision we make as a people of God is an important decision. It is vision that helps us in our decision making. Will we allow vision to instruct us in our decision making this evening as a recommendation is brought to this body to relocate, or will we make our decision based on self-centeredness?
III. VISION INTERPRETS
1. By helping us to clarify options. God doesn’t give us a plan of action and place us on a tightrope, rather He gives us options within His revealed will. In any given action plan, we must prayerfully ask - What are our options?
2. By helping us to keep our priorities in order. One of the most important things we must do as members of the body of Christ, is to keep our priorities in order. Vision, understanding, and revelation helps us to do that. When we read and study God’s Word, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to Illuminate, inspire, and reveal God’s Word to us, and give us the proper interpretation to do so. Without a vision there is nothing to be interpreted.
CONCLUSION: God had a vision for humankind when He sent His Son into this sinful world on a mission of mercy to seek and to save the lost. He had a vision for you and me. Since He is no longer with us in bodily form, He has given His vision to the church that will own it. Have we? Will we? It is our decision!
Please note update: On Sunday evening, January 11, 2004, following the Sunday morning sermon; during a special called business session, the Greenwood Baptist Church owned the pastor’s vision by voting to sell the church’s existing property and relocate to the north side of town.