Check out this post from last year as you plan for a new year of ministry!
As we begin a new year, you’re likely dreaming about the future of your church and ministry. You might be wondering what God might do through you and your congregation or team?
Whatever He has for you, you can be sure that every God-inspired vision has six distinct characteristics. All of them can be clearly seen when God commissioned Joshua to lead His people into the Promised Land…
1. It’s bigger than you think.
God told Joshua He was giving them “all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them” (Joshua 1:6). It’s been estimated that the total territory for the Hebrews was upwards of 15 million acres! It would be hard for anyone, including Joshua, to fathom that much land mass.
On an even grander scale, Joshua most likely had no idea he was a type of Christ, symbolizing though his own obedience and actions how Jesus would later save His people from their sins. God is always working through our lives to do things which are much larger than we can comprehend or see at the moment!
2. It’s harder than you can do.
Joshua had been given a God-sized assignment. Leading a million Israelites across the Jordan to possess a new land certainly isn’t for the faint of heart! Like Joshua, following God’s plan means we’ll be in over our heads. We can roll the stone, but only He can raise the dead. In other words, we should do what He tells us to do, and then watch and anticipate what only He can do!
3. It’s better than they can imagine.
Joshua knew something about the Promised Land. He’d spied it out when he was a young man. So, he knew what Moses meant when he said it was a “land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 26:9). Joshua had seen the Promised Land–the Hebrews had not.
The story is told that during the dedication ceremony of Disney World, someone turned to Mrs. Walt Disney and said, “Isn’t it a shame that Walt didn’t live to see this?” Mrs. Disney replied, “He did see it, that’s why it’s here.” Often God will give one man or one woman a vision of what can be–a glimpse into the future that others around them simply can’t imagine for themselves (and as visionary leaders we shouldn’t expect them to).
4. It’s more restrictive than you might like.
Visionaries usually don’t appreciate boundaries. We enjoy thinking “outside the box” and being free from limitations. Yet, God gave Joshua some clear boundaries. Although the area they were being given was huge, it was nonetheless limited. God said, “Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates–all the Hittite country–to the Mediterranean Sea in the west” (Joshua 1:4).
This flies in the face of the “name it and claim it” mentality, as though we can have anything or go anywhere we want. It is only “if the Lord wills” (James 4:15). We love that God said to Joshua in verse 3, “I will give you every place where you set your foot”; however, a far-reaching promise like this is often followed by a verse where the Lord begins to show us boundary lines that He has put in place for our vision.
5. It’s impossible without faith.
Faith can move mountains. Faith can sooth our fears and calm the storms (Matthew 8:26). Without faith it’s impossible to please God, for we must believe that He is God (Hebrews 11:6). Joshua led the people of Israel by faith; they watched the Walls of Jericho fall because of their faith (Hebrews 11:30).
Great visions and God-sized plans require great faith. But it’s not faith that we try to conjure up in our minds. It’s not pseudo-faith with no basis to stand on. Real faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), and God told Joshua over and over that He would be with them, that they would be successful if they carefully obeyed Him. If you know your vision is from the Lord, then go forward in bold faith.
6. It’s for God’s glory before the nations.
The “promised land” for the Israelites wasn’t heaven; it wasn’t anything like heaven. There were battles still to be fought and won. It would not be comfortable or easy. God’s intention for His people was that they would be a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6). Whatever plans God has for us, His children, you can be sure those plans are to ultimately bring glory and honor to His Son. He created us to glorify Him. Isaiah 43:6-7 says, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory” (italics added). He has us here–before the nations of the world–to “show forth the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
So, ask yourself, is your vision in any way motivated by self-glory, self-improvement or greed? Once all impure and selfish motives are scrapped away, does your heart still burn with a vision to only bring glory and honor to your Savior and be His light to the world? If so, embrace God’s Word to Joshua as His Word to you: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9b).
Praying for Direction
Meditate and pray through these powerful verses to help build your faith and hear God’s voice of direction:
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. –Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
- In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. –Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
- I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. –Jeremiah 10:23 (NIV)
- And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. –Psalm 139:24 (NLT)
- Lead me in the right path, O LORD, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow. –Psalm 5:8 NLT)
- I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. –Proverbs 4:11 (NTL)
- The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. –Psalm 23:1 (NLT)