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A Vision Of God

Habakkuk 1: 1-2; 3: 16-19

Someone has said that life is like a parachute jump.
You've got to get it right the first time.

Andrew Carnegie was once asked the secret of his enormous success.
He said, " I owe it all to my flashes."
His friends said, " What do you mean by flashes?"

Carnegie replied, " Well, all my life I have wake up early in the morning, and there comes
to my mind a waking flash, telling me what to do that day.
If I follow those morning flashes, I always succeed.
"

We don't need to have flashes or hunches.
We need a spirit-given insight into God and His plans for us.

We must go forward with a vision of God.

Habakkuk was one of God's prophets in what was probably a much tougher day than in which we live.
God promised him a vision so that he'd not only survive but also prosper and succeed.
We read in Habakkuk 2: 1, 2: " I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me…"
Then the Lord replied: " Write down the revelation (the vision) and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it
…"

God was going to give Habakkuk a fresh glimpse of Himself, specific and plain, to keep
Habakkuk going and encouraging other faithful ones around him as well.
Habakkuk was a believer just like many of you.

Do you ever feel you stand all alone in this evil world, as if you're such a minority
because you are a Christian, and that you really don't count for much.
Then, you need to become expectant for a vision from God, as Habakkuk did.
You need a fresh word from Him and a sense of plan and direction to motivate you, comfort you,
and to fill you with courage and hope.

Habakkuk was a preacher during the long reign of King Manasseh, a king of Judah.
We need to know a little about him.
King Manasseh built altars to pagan idols all over his country.
He was big on astrology.
He actually built altars to the stars inside of God's own temple.
In 2 Chronicles 33: 6 we're read that he " practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft,
and consulted mediums and spiritists
."
And to offer fire sacrifices he burned his own sons to death! (Can you imagine?)

We think we have troubles today, but here was a situation that we can hardly rival.
Manasseh even installed an enormous pagan image in God's temple.
And of course, he didn't sin alone.
Before long he had carried all the people of Jerusalem and Judah with him into widespread,
open wickedness.

2 Chronicles 33: 10 is a prophetic lack of response in the midst of all this wickedness.
" The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention."
Because of this we read in 2 Chronicles 33:11: " So the Lord brought against them
the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner,
and put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon
."

Habakkuk needs to have some hope, and he was desperate for it, and so, he prayed,
"O God, give me a vision! Show me your face again! Give me promises to cling to!"

And the Lord was so kind, and He comforted His servant, Habakkuk,
" The revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of an end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay
."
(Habakkuk 2: 3)

God is not a bellboy who jumps every time we press a button.
Through the years you will stretch and grow (sometimes painfully) as you wait on His time schedule
for Him to reveal Himself afresh to you, for Him to give you directions and new visions.

Believing include suffering.
Every Christian suffers along the way. (Philippians 1: 29, 30)
Solutions and visions don't come every day or every week -- we must wait for Him!

God Will Give You A Vision

" I could see God tonight
If my heart were right.
If all the rubbish of my soul
Were cleared away…
If my heart were right
I could see God tonight!

And in the radiance of His face
I'd flame with light, and fill this place with beauty,
And the world would know
The face of God down here below --
Tonight!
If only my dull heart were right…"
-- Bernard Lee Rice

If we will stay humble and teachable and pliable before God, searching His Word, seeking His face,
asking His directions and vision for us, He will renew our heart's dullness.
And He will come.
He will meet you again, and maybe, when you least expect it.

The vision that God gave Habakkuk was so wonderful.
National calamity was coming.
It wasn't going to be averted. (Habakkuk 3: 16)

But listen to the word that God in Habakkuk 3: 17-19:
" Tho the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
Tho' the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
Tho' there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet look like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights
."

Our personal peace doesn't need to depend on any outward circumstances or on any
other person's behavior.
Your vision of God and His loving plans for you will be uniquely yours.
Worship and praise Him before you see your vision.
Worshiped and praise Him when you see your vision.

However God arranges your Christian life and moves you forward, it should be around three priorities.
These priorities will keep your dreams and goals from turning inward and becoming self-feeding.

First, always make God priority one.
He must be first -- absolutely first -- with nothing or nobody as any near rival.
There were milling throngs in Jesus' day who called themselves " disciples." (Luke 6:19)
But there were 12 and particularly three who zealously stayed at His heart and side always.
Their eyes were on Him to absorb Him totally.
In Mark 10: 28 Peter said: " Lord, we have left everything to follow you."

I would say to every Christian if you haven't moved out from the milling throng to His inner circle,
then I would urge you to call on Him and commit yourself to do this now.
Draw up a new goal for your life that you will rejoice in God's goodness and His presence
and His love in your life, and do it regardless of the circumstances in your life.

We must determine that we will give God the best of every day.
We must determine that He will get first priority on our schedule.
We must determine that we will give Him absolute Lordship over every conversation and every phone call.
We must determine that he will get the first crack at our checkbook.
We must determine that there will not be one area where He isn't Lord.

Then, enjoy His presence, love Him, thank Him, talk to Him, rejoice in Him, check in with Him,
get your orders from Him, and praise Him all day long.

Secondly, make your fellow believers priority two.
May we truly learn to be the people of God in loving relationships.
There have been so many members of the body of Christ who have loved me… and I thank God
for every one of them.

Thirdly this needy world should be priority three.
We must reach out in love to a needy world without God.
They will not understand your care and your compassion.
They may not even say, " Thank you."

If this is true, then why get excited over the hurting ones of the world.
So, let's return to Habakkuk to see the reason why.

We can learn what the results can be when one believer lives courageously with God's vision before us.
We have already read the way he ended it.
We have read that beautiful vision when he wrote, " Lord, no matter what you do
to our country and to me, I vow I will rejoice. It's okay in my heart with you
."

But listen!
Here is that terrible, King Manasseh in prison in Babylon.
He says, " God, I totally goofed! How can I tell you how sorry I am?"
Can you believe that?

Oh yes, King Manasseh repents.
It could be that all Habakkuk's sermons are going through his mind.
He has tried to ignore them before, but now his memory brings them up again.
" God," prays the king, "
Habakkuk said, 'Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain.'" (Habakkuk 2: 9)
He is saying to God that is just what I did
."

Habakkuk said, " Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed." (Habakkuk 2: 12)
Manasseh was saying, " That was my sin! I can see it clearly now!
O God, I cannot for get his words!
I cannot forget his life!
He was right; I was wrong!
O God, is it too late?
Is it too late
?"

And the Lord of infinite tenderness and mercy, said, " It isn't too late for you, Manasseh."

Manasseh is returned to his kingdom. (2 Chronicles 33: 13)
He rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem.
He fortifies the cities of Judah.
He gets rid of all the foreign gods.
He removes the image of from the temple of the Lord, as well as the altars,
and he throw them out of the city.
He restores the altar of the Lord and sacrifices fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it.

And he tells his people to do the same, but they only partially obey.
On their dumb-pagan altars they offer sacrifices only to the true God.
But King Manasseh himself did a 180° turnaround.
A powerful king becomes humble and changes human history.

Will the life of one believer in a wicked society pay off?
Well, what do you think?
When your witness for Christ is steady and clear, there are powerful forces at work
that you can't even imagine.
The powerful convicting power of the Holy Spirit is at work.
Understand that God can use you!
Pray that God will use you!

Refuse to let anything hinder the fulfillment of your visions.
Discipline yourself!
Exercise self control!
You have been given everything you need in Jesus Christ to get things done.

Focus your ambitions on Him!
" Lord, if you have to, please break down any prisons of mine before I can see the stars
and catch the vision, then Lord, begin the process now.
In joyous anticipation,
Amen."
-- Catherine Marshall