Dreams and Visions

Last week we were part of the Southern Fire Tent revival meetings here in Invercargill.  This was as a result of a vision from God to John Watson. 

In 1981, John Watson, currently pastor of Abundant Life Centre, Dunedin, but at the time pastor at Tokanui, was caught up by the Holy Spirit and had a vision of the Lord's fire being kindled and spread throughout New Zealand. In 2013, John felt led through the Holy Spirit that the time had come for this vision to be fulfilled. [But] it was early in 2015 [34 years after the vision] that the doors began to open and supplies have miraculously come in. A marquee seating 1200 people was procured, along with lighting and other relevant equipment, and a truck, with the vision of having revival meetings in as many towns and cities in NZ as possible.

On the 28th August 1963 Martin Luther King Jnr addressed the crown outside Lincoln Monument in Washington DC with his most famous speech:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."  I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!2
It has taken decades for that dream to be realised, and some parts are still to be realised.
On 8 November 1918, T W Ratana saw a strange cloud like a whirlwind approach. As he ran towards his house he experienced a vision of all the world's roads stretching towards him and felt a heavy but invisible weight descend upon his shoulders. His family saw that he looked strange. He had been struck dumb, but the Holy Spirit spoke through him to his family: 'May peace be upon you; I am the Holy Spirit who is speaking to you; wash yourselves clean, make yourselves ready.' Ratana was regarded as the Mangai (mouthpiece) of the Holy Spirit.  He was the founder of the Ratana movement and was used by God to have a powerful healing ministry.
These are just 3 of millions of dreams and visions that God has given people over the years and over the globe.  They are not unique and occasional. God wants to speak to each of us, and to each of his churches.
Next Saturday night we have our AGM which celebrates the past year of this church and asks us to envision the next year; to ask the questions what dreams and visions has God given you for this church and this community.

The particular definition of a vision or a dream that we are talking about here is the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be, through a picture or word from God: prophetic vision. 

Acts 2:17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, 
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, 
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, 
and your young men shall see visions, 
and your old men shall dream dreams. 
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, 
in those days I will pour out my Spirit; 

Oswald Chambers tells us that “The vision that God gives is not some unattainable castle in the sky, but a vision of what God wants you to be down here. Allow the Potter to put you on His wheel and whirl you around as He desires. Then as surely as God is God, and you are you, you will turn out as an exact likeness of the vision.” 

I want to talk today about some of the characteristics of a God given vision: Of course the basics are that Visions are Born out of Prayer; they come as we seek God’s face and Visions are Consistent with the word of God.
Those are givens. We cannot hear God unless we spend time with him.  God does not counter what he has previously said, so any prophetic word will be in line with Scripture.

But today I want to focus on the size of visions and dreams.

Visions from God are so big that only God can bring them to fruition.  If we can do it ourselves, it is not a God vision, it is our vision. Andy Stanley writes that “God ordained visions will often appear to be impossible from a purely pragmatic perspective.”  A sure sign that it is a God vision or dream is its size and that size will always be beyond what we think our means are able to achieve.  

When we have a dream or vision it sets a direction for our lives. It serves as a roadmap to the future. It serves to guide us in the direction we need to go.

Wyn Fountain, a NZ Christian businessman says that Vision is not something that comes with every detail complete. It comes first as a principal that God reveals to our spirit, then it gets fleshed out as we move into the principal in obedience, step by step.  

God gives great visions that only God can accomplish so that when they become reality God receives the glory and not us. 

A divine vision is not dependent upon us making something happen. It is dependent upon God making something happen.   

However we do not sit back and wait for God to achieve it, we need to participate but God is in control of its pace and size. Think of Gideon and his army – reduced to 300 fighting men, and yet the victory because they went to face the enemy and when that victory was achieved the glory went to God because there was no natural way those men should have won the victory.
Godly visions consume and transform us because of their immensity. We cannot do great things in our spare time. We cannot do great things and remain small. We grow as we attempt great things for God. Think of Paul after Damascus Road experience – totally sold out for God and God’s call on his life. 

Think of Jordy and PeiHua at the Intercultural Church – totally sold out to serving the Asian immigrants to Invercargill. Totally; not holding down 2 jobs and trying to juggle God’s vision as well as making money. Solely trusting God, and working for God, because they heard a vision from him.

Vision offers meaning; vision instills hope; vision directs our energy.   If God gives us the dream, he gives us the means, he provides so that his dream can be fulfilled.
We are told in another context to not hide our light under a bushel but to let it shine. In regard to dreams and visions, they remain hidden under a bushel until we share them with people.  We achieve God vision through a community – through his church. God dreams will always be bigger than one person. We achieve God’s vision when we share a common vision.

The kingdom only becomes a reality for us when our vision of the world filled with the coming reign of God is shared with others; when we participate in the visionary community. 

The vision gives a context for the labour or service that goes beyond the mere doing of it. The vision inspires workers, envisioning a future that they want to see come about. 

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. 

But there is a warning here: vision does not get achieved through coercion. If it is God’s vision, other people will already know it or hear it and it will gel with their own God hearing and they will be ready to participate. “If a vision must be sold to others, it is … probably not divinely inspired. Spiritual leaders don't sell vision; they share what God has revealed to them and trust the Holy Spirit to confirm the vision in the hearts of their people.” 

It is interesting in relation to dreams and visions that our time frame and God’s time frame often do not align.  Think of John Watson. His vision was in 1981 but it did not become reality until 2015. “Sometimes God will do something very quickly, but the majority of our prophecy promises, dreams and visions will go through this process of slowly-steadily-surely.” 

I know God speaks to you. I know he gives you dreams and visions, because these are the latter days. So often we are fearful of sharing these big dreams and visions because people will think we are weird or big headed, but please share it with this church family.

"Let's remember that every ministry started as someone's dream. Every church, parachurch ministry, church college, Christian publisher, and missionary organization started as a dream that God gave to someone. It is exciting to think that right this minute, the Holy Spirit may be igniting a fantastic new expression of ministry in my heart or in someone I know."  

This week, as we prepare for the AGM, please seek after God and ask him for his dream, his vision for you and for Eastside and come prepared to share that on Saturday night.