Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What Happens When We Lose Vision?

Recently, I was inspired to preach on vision.  I just finished reading a book on the beginnings of our fellowship.  [An Open Door, Ron Simpkins © 1985, Potter’s Press]  This book is filled with Pastor Mitchell’s vision for the fellowship and the Gospel.  What makes it most interesting is that pastor Mitchell never sat down and came up with a “Mission Statement.”  He never sat down and said, “This is my vision!”  Over time God revealed His plan and Pastor Mitchell did what God called him to do.

As we look back over the forty-seven years since our fellowship began, it’s difficult to deny that we have been in the midst of great revival.  We have planted churches all over the world.

It’s important to understand that as individual Christians, we must have a revelation of God’s will for our own lives that we can respond to if we want to reach our destiny.  Today I want to look at what happens when we lose that revelation:

Proverbs 29:18 (NKJV)
29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.
 1 Samuel 3:2-3 (NKJV)
3:2 And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, 3 and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down,

Without Revelation People Cast Off Restraint

The Bible tells us that where there is no revelation that people cast off restraints.  We begin to operate outside moral limits.  We are governed by lusts and desires rather than what God has revealed to us about His will for our lives.  When we're acting on satisfying our own lusts, then anything goes.  We will do whatever we need to do to satisfy our basest desires, and sin takes over.

Revelation is vision.  It is something that’s revealed by God:  Something that at one time was hidden can now be seen.  God reveals His plan and purpose for our lives, but there’s a part that we play in God’s revealing.  We must pray and seek revelation from God.  “God show me what plan and will you have for my life.”  Once that’s revealed then it is up to us to act in a way that brings that revelation to life.   We call that living out God’s will for our lives.  We are moved by God’s will and not self will.  In other words, we need to be looking for God’s will. We need to have vision.

In our text we see Eli.  Eli is the leader of Israel.  He’s judge over Israel.  It’s his responsibility to lead Israel into the will of God for that nation.  He’s the one who has revelation, but look at this phrase: “when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see.”  He’s losing his vision; he’s going blind.  This speaks of his physical sight, but what happens in the natural can be a reflection of what’s happening in the spiritual realm.  He has lost his vision in a spiritual way as well.

1 Samuel 2:27 (NKJV)
2:27 Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: 'Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?

Eli is Aaron’s grandson.  Aaron was chosen by God to be the one who ministers in the tabernacle. Only a descendant of Aaron can do that.  God clearly revealed Himself to Aaron, and his ability to see God’s revelation was passed down to Eli.  Eli, at one time had vision.  He’s going blind in a physical and spiritual sense, and that loss of vision played itself out in his son’s lives.

Eli has two sons, Hophni and Phineas.  Look at these men:

1 Samuel 2:22 (NKJV)
2:22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

They’ve violated their relationships with the people to whom God has sent them to minister.  They’ve used their authority in an unholy way.  They also took the meat of the offering before it was offered.  That isn’t how God had set it up.  Eli because, of his own loss of revelation and vision, didn’t hold them accountable.  These men have cast off restraint.  It’s up to us to seek a personal revelation from God.  Hophni and Phineas never had revelation.  They never had vision, and so there were no moral limits on their lives.  They did whatever appealed to their carnal flesh.  Because Eli had lost his own vision and revelation, it was never imparted into his sons.

This is one danger of backsliding.  It’s also the danger of putting worldly things, rather than spiritual things, first.  When we do that, we are imparting into our children that the calling of God is less important than the things of the world.

Hebrews 11:24-27 (NKJV)
11:24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

I’d say that Moses had vision that was revealed to him by God.  “Esteeming the reproach of Christ,” this is centuries before Jesus on earth.  “He endured as seeing Him who is invisible”.  There was a revelation of God’s call on his life and that revelation caused him to put aside the sin.

Has God revealed His calling and will for your life?  Do you understand God’s vision for your life?  Have you sought a revelation of God’s will, so that you can live it out?

Losing the Vision

1 Samuel 2:29-30 (NKJV)
2:29 Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?' 30 Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: 'I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.' But now the Lord says: 'Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

The man of God has come to rebuke Eli, and warns Eli that he has drifted away from God’s call.  His sons have cast off all restraint; nothing any longer restrains them from their sin.  They even fornicate in the House of God.  So, God judges them and judges Eli for his unwillingness to restrain them.  Eli calls them out, but he doesn’t hold them accountable.  God tells Eli, “You honor your sons more than me.”  There’s judgment on God’s part and the promise is removed. 

All of God’s promises are conditional – IF you do this THEN I will do that.  You violate the if and God takes away the promise.  God has removed Eli’s family’s destiny. 

God has a destiny for your life that coincides with your calling.  If you live out your calling, then God will deliver on your destiny, but if you violate that calling your destiny is changed.  God will take that promise and give it to another man.  In this case, God chooses Samuel to replace Eli’s sons, as the one who will inherit the promise.  Instead of Hophni and Phineas becoming the next judges over Israel, Samuel becomes the next judge.

We also see this in Saul’s life, the first king of Israel.  God has told Saul that his family will rule over Israel forever, but after his disobedience and presumption God tears the kingdom from him and gives it to David; a man after God’s own heart.

1 Samuel 15:26-28 (NKJV)
15:26 But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel." 27 And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28 So Samuel said to him, "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.

There’s a calling on our lives.  God has called us to something and He’s looking for obedience.  He’s looking for us to respond to, and execute His will, not trying to make our will God’s will.  That’s where Saul failed.  He lost God’s vision and replaced it with his own vision.  Because of that, he lost the kingdom and the promise for his son Jonathan.

Eli lost the vision and allowed his sons’ visions to rule him.  Because of that, his destiny was taken and theirs as well.  In both cases, God gave that same destiny to someone else; someone who would carry out God’s vision.

We need to be careful that we do what’s necessary to carry out God’s calling and vision in our lives if we want to see our destiny.  Vision lost is destiny lost.  We need to strengthen, and look to build on, God’s calling and destiny on our lives.

Maintaining Vision

In our physical lives a loss of vision is natural.  I don’t see as well as I did when I was young.  I went from 20/20 vision to bifocals.  In our spiritual lives, we are also in danger of losing vision. 

Pastor Mitchell has built his vision for our fellowship, based on God’s revelation for over forty-seven years.  It has grown over time.    In the beginning, the vision was for the church in Prescott.  It grew to include hippies and wanderers in town.  It grew to include discipleship; preparing men for the harvest fields.  It grew to releasing men to pioneer churches in Arizona, then into other states, and finally internationally. 

That vision has enlarged and strengthened over the years.  It went from that one church in Prescott, Arizona, to more than two thousand, two hundred churches in more than half the countries of the world.

The way he has maintained and even enlarged that vision is by contending for what God wants to do.  He prays!  He watches for open doors!  He listens to the men he has released into ministry.  He presses for more of God’s plan, and responds with a willingness to obedience.  That’s how he maintains and enlarges the vision. 

What about you?  Are you looking for God’s calling on your life?  Are you open to whatever God calls you to, even if it doesn’t fit in with your own plans? 

I never had plans to come to Taiwan.  I had never even thought about Taiwan, until God opened my eyes to his calling.  It was a revelation of His plan for my life.  I wanted God to lead me.  Even now I want to reach God’s destiny for me.  I’m still open to God’s calling.  There’s only one way to His destiny and that lies in our response to His calling.

When we allow ourselves to give in to our flesh; when we allow ourselves to put our own will first, we’re really casting off God’s will for our lives, and we are in danger of casting off restraint and bringing ourselves to a place of judgment.  In Eli’s case God judged his sons for their father’s loss of vision and their subsequent loss of restraint.

I’ve seen this in my my own as well.  Parents who had no vision of God’s calling on them, their children struggle with a loss of restraint:  Pregnant and unmarried, involved in drugs and homosexuality, and fornication.  All of these things are symptoms of a casting off of restraint and a loss of vision.  There will be judgment and a loss of destiny, unless those children begin to seek God’s revelation for themselves.  You can come back from this, if you repent and begin to look for a revelation of God’s will for your life and respond to that calling in obedience.

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