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Post  Fenny West on Wed 16 Apr 2008, 4:46 pm

For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The [b]voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.Matt3:3

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.Hab.2:3

Vision has a voice and at the appointed time it shall speak and not lie. It shall not delay a single day. What is your vision? And what is it saying? Vision has a power that will drive you into purpose. It enables you see beyond the now. You are able to see through the eyes of God and taste tomorrow, today.

John the Baptist, the fiery preacher was born to Zacharias and Elizabeth at their old age. He was a miracle child. Hundreds of years before he was born there was a prophecy concerning him and at the appointed time it came to pass. They were considered hopeless- gone past child-bearing age, but God had a different plan for them; and so the forerunner, the voice of the redemption vision came. He was the voice who cried out in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of the Lord.(Luke3:4-6, Isa40:3-5)

This voice of the vision was uncompromising. He called a spade a spade and sin, sin. He was raw and rough, ate honey and wild bees and wore Carmel’s clothing. He was a sight to behold. His speech was laced with fire and brimstone: ‘You brood of vipers’ he challenged his audience, ‘Who warned you to flee the wrath to come?’ (Luke3:7)

He wanted them to show him fruits for their repentance. He was a thorn in the flesh of the authorities, including king who had married his brother’s wife even when he was still alive. John the Baptist told him to his face: ‘It’s unacceptable, whether or not you’re the king.’ This infuriated Herodias his stolen wife and the king. John was imprisoned and she demanded the head of John the Baptist on a platter. It was as if the voice of the vision had been silenced. (Luke 3:19-20)

John suffered a lapse of faith and sent message to Jesus: ‘Are you the coming One, or do we look for another?’(Matt. 11 :3) This was the same prophet who had recognised Jesus afar off and proclaimed: ‘Behold the lamb that takes away the sin of the world.’( John1: 29) He was the one who initially refused to baptise Jesus on the grounds that he was not worthy to untie the latchet of His sandals, but in the heat of the moment faith took flight.

This is the Violence of Vision

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. (Mat 11:12)

Violence of vision is a coin with two sides. On one side is what happens to Christians as they voice their vision and follow God’s plan for their lives- fulfilling the vision. Satan gets mad, opposition rises and violence is unleashed, just as it happened to the prophets and saints of old. David was a man after God’s own heart but was hounded from pillar to post by his enemies and even his son at one time.

Jesus ‘came to His own,’ but was not only rejected but was tortured and crucified. Paul, who was a persecutor himself, turned to the Lord but suffered persecution himself and was executed in the end. Daniel stood for what he believed but was thrown in to the lion’s den. Similarly, Daniel’s friends were thrown into the fiery furnace that had been heated seven times hotter because of their uncompromising stance. The list can go on and on.

Little wonder Jesus said, ‘In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.’ This is the reproach of Jesus which every believer who practices what they preach will suffer. But we thank God that the holy writ also says if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him. In fact it says ‘our present suffering cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed.’ Again it says ‘our light afflictions worketh for us an eternal weight of glory.’ As the outward man wastes away, the inward man is renewed day by day. We are reminded that those who will live this righteous life will be persecuted like He was. We should rather be concerned if we are loved by everyone. It may well be that we are compromising our beliefs. Someone said, ’if the devil is not bothering you, you should be bothered.’

The other side of the violence of vision is our response to the opposition or persecution.

First of all, we need to renew our minds to the fact that opposition will come when we are in Christ and even especially so. Opposition is not a lack of faith or an evidence of disapproval from God. In fact it may well be a sign or seal of approval if we are suffering for righteousness sake. What does God want us to do at such times?

8]We need to realise that we are in a spiritual warfare and acknowledge the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ. This is the time to put on the whole armour of God and stand our ground.[/size]

‘the trial of your faith works patience’ (James 1:3)

We need to realise that God is sovereign and that there are certain circumstances that He may deliver us from and there are other circumstances that He may want to ‘take us through’. He decides the occasion. Ours is to surrender to His will, like Jesus did, ‘Not my will but Your will be done.’

Faith still has a role to play in that He wants us to remain in faith and faithful all the way, whether or not we are taken out of the situation or taken through. ‘The just shall live by faith.’ If we seek His face diligently, He may reveal to us whether He would take us through or out of the situation. But He remains the final arbiter. He is not obliged to tell us.

Therefore in Hebrews 11 and in biblical history, we see two procession of saints- those who were escaped the sword, received their young back from the dead, survived the fiery furnace, smelling like rose rather than suffocating to death or incinerated and the others who were burned alive, cut into pieces, crucified upside down etc. etc. God was with these two groups. Some saints took part in the triumph or seeming demise of both processions in their life-time. In recent times it has happened in Nigeria when Christians have been burned alive by Moslem fanatics and it happens in many Islamic countries.

God often allows persecution to wake us from spiritual slumber. Here in the West we are very laid back in our Christianity. We are afraid to speak the truth in love regardless of the consequences. It is true that we need wisdom not to offend for the sake of offending but we need to use the mind of Christ to speak what He wants us to peak and the way He wants us to speak -without fear or favour, yet in love. We need the boldness that the disciples had such that the unbelievers ‘knew that they had been with Jesus.’ We need the fervour and passion of Peter and Nehemiah, in the face of opposition, Hannah and Esther in the face of barrenness and humiliation. .

Some of us will not pray earnestly until danger, the dagger or death stares us in the face. When the disciple were persecuted in Acts 8, they were disperse and in so doing spread the Gospel. They responded appropriately, proclaiming the truth, the life, the light and the Way and many were added to their number; there was revival.

Yes, at that time the Kingdom of God suffered violence and the violent took it by force. That is the will of God for us- to set our faces like flint and stand against the hordes and hosts of darkness. It is a time to put on the whole armour of God and stand in the evil day. It is the time to realise that unless we are strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, we are easy prey to the enemy. Unless we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God we are bread to the devil. This is the time to avoid all strife and give no place to the enemy. It's a time to realise that weapon of our warfare are not physical but mighty with divine power and potency to destroy every scheme and strategy of the devil. Jesus said: ‘In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have over come the world. It is written: ‘for this purpose the son was made manifest, that He may destroy the works of the devil. ‘Jesus disarmed principalities and powers and made a public spectacle of them triumphing over hem even through the cross.'

Paul said, ‘shall tribulation nor distress, shall persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? Who can separate us from the love of Christ?’

‘Nay ! In all these things we are more than conquerors. Neither death nor life nor angel, nor powers impending or threatening, nor height nor depth nor any creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? (Rom.8:37-39) ‘They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony that they loved not their lives even unto death.’( Rev12:11) We have to be determined, passionate undaunted regardless of the opposition. If God is for us who can be against us? ( Rom. 8:31). Whoever is born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. 1John5:4, 1John 5:5)

The Validation of Vision
[b]16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matt 3:16-17

God will validate our faith. We may deny Him but He would not deny himself. He may not respond the way we want Him to or at the time we want Him to, nevertheless God loves us with an everlasting love. He will prove His word to be true in our lives so long as we hold on to the vision and operate within its boundaries. Heaven and earth will pass away but His word will not pass away. The word that has proceeded out of His mouth will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish that which He pleases.’ Jesus knew why He came and followed His vision from an early age. 'I must be about my Father’s business.’ He said. John the Baptist led the way and when His work was done he was martyred. Jesus validated the ministry of John the Baptist.

When Jesus began his ministry, God -the -Father validated Him: ‘This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.’ The ministry of Jesus was further validated by the miracles He performed- the lame walked, the blind saw and the dead were raised, sin was forgiven and man was reconciled back to God. At His death the elements validated His uniqueness. (Matt. 11:4-6)

Elijah’s faith was validated as He stood against the prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven.1Ki.18:36-40) Paul was validated as he set his face like flint to fulfil the vision God had called him to: I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,’ he proclaimed. And despite being flogged with rod, shipwrecked, imprisoned he penned 13 best sellers of all time and encouraged the saints and is still encouraging us today after thousands of years.( 2Cor.4:7-11, --11:22-30, --12:7-10)

So child of God, stand to see your salvation, vindication and validation. Preach the word in season and out of season. God will show Himself strong on your behalf. He will demonstrate beyond doubt that His promises are yes and amen in Christ Jesus. He will open doors that have been shut for too long. He will perform the miraculous from the ridiculous, like bringing froth water out of a rock. He has not changed. He remains the same yesterday, today and forever. The blind will see, the lame will walk, the dead will be raised from the dead, the sick will be healed and every eye, including those of the doubting Thomases will see it, and God will take the glory and the honour and praise.

Therefore, let your vision speak. Let not your hands be weak. You have set it on the divine plough. Look straight ahead. Look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of your faith. Wait on your vision until its appointed time. Wit on the Lord and renew your strength so that you can mount up with wings like an eagle. Let its voice not be silenced by any intimidation. In spite of the violence of vision, let the violent-redeemed-of-the Lord take the kingdom by force. Stand to see God’s salvation. The rider and the horse shall be hurled into the sea. The sea will see the glory of God in you and flee.

Listen to your Saviour: 18 Jesus replied,
"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to walk all over snakes and scorpions. You will be able to destroy all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you.(Luke 10:18-19)


Fenny West
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