Personal Visions

Habakkuk 1: 1-4,5

I have been asked many times by people in counseling what a certain dream meant.
The Bible has a lot to say about dreams.
Today, I want to talk to you about a different type of dream.
I want to talk about those dreams you have when you're awake, and I'm not talking
about daydreaming.

I'm talking about personal visions.
A personal vision happens when God puts a fire in your soul and motivates you to keep on going.

I read where someone said, "Too many people are POWs -- Prisoners of Wishes."
First, there are the wishers.
They are those who say, "I wish I had...taken that job... get a better job... by a newer car...
have a bigger house, etc."
The wishers are just content to to continue to wish that things could happen, but this is
as far as they go.

Second, there are the whiners.
Things are never right for the whiner.
As they see it, life is never fair, and they are always finding fault.
The greatest thing that could happen to a Christian whiner is to be delivered from a whinny spirit.

Third, there is the "what's happening?" people.
Because of alcohol and drugs in their lives, many in this group have no idea what to expect,
where to go, or how to act.
They sleep-walk through life waking only long enough to ask, "What's happening?"

Fourth, there are the walking wounded.
We should have great compassion for this group.
Sexual, physical, and/or verbal abuse haunts their past.
Many in this group have been neglected or unwanted, which is also abuse.
We must encourage this group and show them God's love.

Fifth, there are 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
-- a vision, and move forward.
A person of vision asks God to take the dream and give direction.

We can learn something from Habakkuk.
Habakkuk was a whiner, a complainer, and a colossal failure.
He was negative, cynical and critical.
No one wanted to be around him, nor was he respected

Habakkuk's Assyrian 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 difficult one.
His job was to be a prophet in an age when great prophets were scarce.

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

That is why there must be a time in every life when the little boy in us sits down and the man
in us stands up.
There must be a time when the little girl in the woman sits down and the woman in her 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 what others are thinking.
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 the hearing of anyone and everyone.

Habakkuk is often called the "Doubting Thomas" of the Old Testament, and chapter 1 of Habakkuk
reveals to us the reason 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)

First, we notice Habakkuk's bad attitude is his directive 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.
For instance, "You always say that," or "You never listen," or...
These words tell us something about the person.

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

A vision from God can transform your life and my life, and even change our behavior and personality.
We will never be the same again when we receive a vision of what God can do and will do through us.

In Habakkuk 1: 5 is the first vision God gives 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)

As you read the rest of the chapter, you'll see that 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 when He says, "Even though I will tell you beforehand,
you won't believe it

Here we learn 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.

A rebuke to many of us would cause us to defend ourselves.
We began giving a list of excuses, and/or how depressed we are.
And many times, when we hear the Word of God taught or preached, we put up our umbrella
and shed the message on others as if to say, "It's not me -- it's them".

When God and rebukes us or convicts us, we should see this as a supreme example of His love.
Isn't it amazing that out of more than 10 billion people on this earth, God speaks to us
individually, and addresses our doubts and our faith.

When we are struggling emotionally and spiritually, we are like Habakkuk.
We want to be happy, and to be positive, and to be a leader, but the truth is we are
worn-out -- just plain tired and hurting.

Chapter 1 is a picture of faith whining, "Ah."
Chapter 2 is a display of faith shouting, "Ah, hah" -- I see it".
I understand what God is trying to do in my heart.

It would change our life completely today, if we would ask God to take control of our lives,
and invade our will and heart so that we could see the personal vision that He has for our lives.

Many Bible scholars teach that chapter 3 is 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.
Chapter 3 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 to this man?
I'll tell you what happened.
It was the power of a personal 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.
Right now -- this very moment -- you and I can be transformed by a personal vision that God
has for you and for me.
No matter what you have gone through in the past, and no matter what you are facing in the present,
God wants to fill you with His power.
Ask God what He wants for you, and He will reveal it to you.

Then, there will be an investment.
There is a price to be paid for such a glorious vision.
We must pay the price to have the vision, or pay the penalty for not having vision.

Then, there will be involvement.
Be ready to serve -- to be used -- to encourage and inspire others...

God used the vision of Habakkuk to change the life of Martin Luther.
While climbing the steps on his knees in penitent prayer, Martin 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 bleeding on my knees; Jesus did the bleeding for me."
"I don't need to suffer this way; Jesus did the suffering for me."
"I don't have to earn salvation -- in fact, I can't; Jesus paid the price for me."

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

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

And in a prayer meeting at a place called Alders Gate, John Wesley had a vision of God
and of 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.
Probably, before this will never happen, personal sins must be confessed, and we must turn
from them, and receive a cleansing from God.
Then, and only then will God give you or me that personal vision.

When God gives us a personal vision, life takes on a new intensity.
It is called passion.
Passion drives us to serve.
Passion drives us into living the vision that God has given us.

Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L. White