The Power Of A Personal Vision

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 5:
"The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence,
and thou wilt not save!
Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?
for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth:
for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously:
for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you."

Many people have wondered what a certain dream meant.
The Bible has much to say about dreams.
The dreams of Joseph are familiar to most Christians.

But I want to talk to you today about a different type of dream.
I want to talk about those dreams that you can have when you are awake.
I'm not talking about daydreaming.
I want to talk to you about personal visions.
A personal vision happens when God puts a fire in your soul, and motivates you to keep on trying.

Someone has said, "Too many people are POW's – Prisoners of Wishes."
These people are not experiencing the power of a personal vision.

I want to talk about several categories of people.

1. The Wishers.

"I wish I had…"
"I wish I could make the team."
"I wish I could get a better job."
"I wish I could afford a newer car."
"I wish we could get a bigger house."
The wishers are just content to merely wish that things would happen.
Usually, this is as far as they go.

2. The Whiners

Things are never right for the whiner.
Life is never fair.
They are always finding fault.
The greatest thing that could happen to a Christian whiner is to be delivered from a whiny spirit.

3. The "What's Happening?"

Because of alcohol and drugs, many in this group have no idea what to expect, where to go, or how to act.
They are sleep-walking through life.
They wake up only long enough to ask, "What's happening?"

4. The Walking Wounded

We should have great compassion for this group.
Sexual, physical, and/or verbal abuse haunt their past.
Many in this group have been neglected or unwanted, and may also have been abused.
We must encourage this group, and show them God's love for them.

5. The Winners

They made the decision to overcome obstacles, pressures, fatigue, criticism, failures, loneliness,
and other scars of the past.
They understand that by paying the price today, tomorrow can be victorious.

You can belong to one or more of these groups, but to be a winner, you must begin with a dream
and a vision and move forward.
A person of vision asks God to take the dream and add direction.

With all that in mind let us take a look at Habakkuk.
Habakkuk was a whiner, a complainer, and a colossal failure.
He was negative, cynical, and critical.
No one wanted to be around someone like this, so Habakkuk was not respected.

Habakkuk's Syrian name means "one who clings to" or "one that leans on" – much like a vine
that grows up and leans against a house.
It was used to describe a person who leans on or clings to God.
His name was unusual, and his assignment was a tough one.
His job was to be a prophet in an age when great prophets were scarce.

He was something like we are sometimes today.
We often lean on or cling to whoever is the loudest and the closest.
If others around us are motivated, then we are motivated.
If those around us are casual, then we are casual.
If those around us are lukewarm, then we are lukewarm.
If those around us lack convictions, then we tend to ease up on our convictions and standards.

That is why there has to be a time in every life when the little boy sits down, and the man stands up.
That is why there has to be a time when the little girl sits down and the woman stands up.
We must come to the place where we live as God has called us to live regardless of what others
are doing or regardless of what others think.
If we are only as strong as those around us; or the surrounding circumstances, then we are in trouble.

Habakkuk knew that his nation was about to be judged by the living God.
And though they deserved to be judged, he was angry.
This reluctant prophet made a habit of complaining, publicly.
He ranted and raved venting his anger and questioning the Lord in earshot of anyone and everyone.

Habakkuk is often called the "Doubting Thomas" of the Old Testament.
And chapter 1 shows us why:
"The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
Oh Lord, how long shall I cry, and you will not hear?
Even cry out to you, "Violence!"
And you will not save.
Why do you show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.
Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth."
(Habakkuk 1:1-4)

Our first clue to Habakkuk's bad attitude is his directing it to God: "You will not hear!"
He even says, "Justice never goes forth."
When you hear the word, "never," or "always," get ready to run.
"You always say that," or "You never listen," or "You never…"
These words tell us something.

In the next verse, God interrupts Habakkuk's negative nonsense and speaks.
He rebukes the complaining, and gives him a vision to believe in.

Notice what happens next.
Habakkuk is amazingly transformed.
A vision from God will transform your life and your personality.
You will never be the same again once you receive the Power of a Personal Vision.

Here is the first vision that God give Habakkuk:
"Look among the nations and watch… Be utterly astounded.
For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you
(Habakkuk 1:5)

"Look and be amazed at what's happening!"
For the rest of the chapter, God gives Habakkuk a vision in answer to his whining.
As to justice – God's justice is coming.
As to the powerless law – God is going to show His incredible power.
As to His truth and righteousness – it will be astounding.

God speaks to his lack of faith, saying, "Even though I will tell you beforehand – you won't believe it."

Do you see how very personal God's response is to each of us?
Habakkuk was exposed as a whiner, a wisher, and as wounded.
And as a result of this mighty rebuke from God, Habakkuk was transformed.

For many of us a rebuke causes us to rear up in defense of ourselves.
We start defending.
We begin with a long list of excuses, and/or become depressed.
And many times when we hear the Word of God taught or preached, we put up our umbrella
and shed it onto others.
In our mind we are saying -- it's not me – it is them.

When God rebukes us – convicts us – we should see this as a supreme example of His love.
Out of billions of people on this planet, God speaks to us individually,
and He addresses both our doubt and our faith.

So, Habakkuk seemed like many of us are at times – struggling emotionally and spiritually.
We want to be happy, and we want to be positive.
We want to be a leader, but the bottom line is that we are tired – used, worn, and are hurting.

Chapter one is a picture of faith whining, "Ahh me!"
Chapter 2 is a display of faith shouting, "Ah Hah!"
I see it!
I understand what God is trying to do in my heart and in my life.

It would change your life completely today, if you would give God the control of your life
and allow Him to invade your will and heart so that you could see the personal vision
that God has for your life.
If you would invite God to change you; and if you would believe in His power for your future;
then you will move as Habakkuk did to "Faith Singing."

Many biblical scholars proclaim chapter 3 to be one of the greatest chapters of praise in God's Word.
It was sung in the temple then, and is still sung in synagogues today.
This is a chapter filled with victory, hope, joy, understanding and peace.
This is a great chapter.

Now, who wrote Chapter 3?
It was the same Whiner of chapter 1 who became the Proclaimer of God's Power.
What happened?
I will tell you what happened.

It was the Power of a Personal of Vision from God.
God changed Habakkuk from the inside out.
The doubts, the fears, the negativism, the loneliness, and the complaining were replaced with choruses of praise.

Today, you (and I) can be transformed by personal vision that God has for you (for me).
No matter what you have gone through in the past, no matter what you are facing in the present,
God wants to enable you with His power.

Just ask God what He wants of you.
Make the request – and wait upon Him – and He will reveal it to you.
God is not going to give everyone the same vision.
It is always a personal revelation given as a result of the time that you spend alone with God.
Nothing is more important when making a life-changing decision than this sacred, silent time spent with God.

And when God gives you a personal vision, your life takes on a new intensity.
It is called passion.
Passion drives you to service.
Passion drives you into performing the vision that God has given you.

Then there will be an investment.
There is a price to be paid for that vision.
So, pay the price to have the vision.
Or pay the penalty for not having the vision.

Then there will be involvement.
Be ready to serve.
Be ready to be used.
And you will inspire others also to have their personal vision from God.

God used the vision of Habakkuk to change the life of Martin Luther.
While Martin Luther was climbing the steps on his knees in penitent prayer,
Luther remembered the words of Habakkuk: "The just shall live by faith."
And those words came alive in his heart.

Luther realized, "I don't need to crawl while bleeding on my knees.
Jesus did the bleeding for me."
And you can say: "I don't need to suffer this way, Jesus did the suffering for me."
"I don't have to earn my way – in fact, I can't earn my salvation – Jesus paid the price for me."

That vision God gave Martin Luther changed him and resulted in the Reformation.
That was a movement that changed the impact of Christianity for all of history.

Many, many years later, there was an English preacher, named John Wesley,
who was trying to do good works in America.
After his valiant efforts and few conversions, a very discouraged John Wesley sailed back to England.
He was ready to quit the ministry, and very angry at God.

Then one day in a prayer meeting at a place called Aldersgate, John Wesley had a vision
of God and himself – and that led to the birth of the Methodist Church.

Do you want a personal vision from God?
Do you want a life that transcends the ordinary, then ask God for a vision and believe it, and act on it.

Finally, there has to be integrity.
Sin must be confessed, and we must turn from them and be cleansed.
Then, and only then, will God give you and me that personal vision that we so desperately need.

I Saw The Lord!

"He was holy.
He was righteous.
He was radiant.
In all of His glory.

I was filled with darkness,
When I came trembling in the room.
I caught sight of Him.
I knew for sure that I was doomed.
Completely overwhelmed,
I could not hold my weakened knees.
Fell on my face but instantly felt His peace.

And those that gathered 'round His throne,
They cried, "Holy holy holy,
As we stood before His throne.
They cried, "Holy holy."
And I realized
That I was standing before God.

God my God, yeah!
I was face to face.
And everything in me changed.
Darkness faded to light.
In His presence I'll remain.

Now my heart is full.
He has caused me to dance.
I will worship Him.
He is my deliverance.
And all of what I was
Seemed to slowly melt away.

The transformation caused
The old man to decay.
Suddenly the awe of who He was
Came crashing in on me.

He reigns in majesty dominion
And power for all eternity.
He rules with authority
And now that I've seen Him,
I've got victory

I saw the Lord, I saw Him.
I saw the Lord high and lifted up.
I saw Him (I saw the Lord).
I saw Him (I saw the Lord),
And I will never be the same!"
-- "I Saw The Lord" by Gary Oliver, Fred Hammond, and Noel Hall

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White