One of the most incredible things about becoming a Christian is that God gives you vision and dreams. When you deal with the guilt, fear, and pain in your heart you create space in for God put vision and dreams inside you. Vision means you believe the world can be changed – from people and families to communities and institutions. You learn how to have faith that you are part of a larger plan to change the world.
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Joel 2:28 NIV
Vision and dreams aren’t intended for just the young. As Christians we are all meant to have dreams and visions. Do you still go to bed at night dreaming about what God is going to do – for your family, for your career, and for your future? Do you still pray with eager expectation of the vision yet to be fulfilled in your life?
If the answer is “No” then you have to consider where your faith is at and how to increase it.
Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Proverbs 29:18 KJV
When we have no vision, our faith perishes. I think one of the biggest challenges we face is how to have faith and maintain vision when we suffer disappointment. Prolonged disappointment makes it really easy to lose vision. What disappointments have you experienced? Do you still talk about them? You know you’re really disappointed when you stop talking about your feelings all together; the pain becomes too much and you would rather pretend it’s not there.
Ask yourself if you still believe …
- The world can change?
- You can change?
- Your family can change – spouse, children, parents?
- You were meant do something special?
Have you suffered disappointments in any of these areas? Decide to talk to a spiritual friend about them today – the more you talk, the more your friends can help build your faith and change your perspective.
Vision: I Can Change
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
…33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Mark 5:24-34 NIV
This woman suffered disappointment for twelve long years. She risked disappointment time and time again, each time having to have faith that this doctor and this treatment could be the solution. No matter how dire or discouraging it got she still held on to hope.
Do you still believe you can change? That your character can change? Your sins can change? Your desires can change? Your heart can change? That you don’t have to be controlled or defined by your emotional health?
Some of us don’t see ourselves anymore – we see depression, we see anxiety, we’re too old, we’re too young, we’re too (fill in the blank). But God doesn’t see us that way – he sees whether or not we will have faith. When God looks at you, what will he see?
Vision: Others Can Change
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
Mark 9:17-19 NIV
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out.
Mark 9:21-26 NIV
We can’t stop believing others can change. When we let other people quit, we quit on them as well. One of the most important things we need when we have lost hope in ourselves is to see in the eyes of others that they have not lost hope in us. Quitting is a form of unfaithfulness. Have you quit on believing that your spouse, children or parents can change? What about friends of yours that maybe you have tried to help?
Let’s look at a few key scriptures about faith to learn how to build it:
1. Faith Requires Work
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:28-29 NIV
The work God wants us to do is to believe. What work have you done on your faith? That may look like memorizing scriptures, doing Bible studies with friends, or spending more time around people who will help build your faith. Make a decision this week to work on building your faith.
2. Faith Affects Our Love
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6 NIV
We won’t be able to love without faith. We’ll be too afraid of pain, rejection and failure to love anyone if we don’t have faith. If you need extra motivation to work on building your faith, consider how much your dating relationships or marriage would change if you had the faith to give more of your heart.
3. Faith Affects Our Joy
7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
1 Peter 1:7-8 NIV
We can only have real joy when we have faith. Anything else will be only temporary. Vacations, money, food, sleep or anything else we turn to to feel happier won’t last very long. But having faith in a God who takes care of you and has a plan for your life can bring you joy no matter your circumstances.
Vision: Calm In the Curve
17 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.
Exodus 13:17-18 NLT
Sometimes God takes us the roundabout way to our “promised land.” Will you have faith even if your path isn’t the quickest or most direct? I can’t tell you why God had us wait 4 years to have a family – through years of diets, surgery, disappointments and multiple doctors and specialists. But I know God has a reason and plan for it.
In what areas of your life do you think God is taking you on a roundabout path? How are you responding? Having vision means you are calm even when life throws you curveballs.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up…
8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:1,8 NIV
It’s important to God that we have faith and don’t give up. Find a community of faithful friends who will help you build your faith, and make a decision today to not give up, no matter your circumstances.