Reading: Matthew 17:14-23


[*] Rev. Martin Luther King, said,  "I  HAVE A DREAM!" AND HE
         [*] Do you ever dream about 'what could be?'


         In Sept 1991, shortly  after  coming  to  the  corps, I spoke
         about faith like a grain of mustard seed
         (a) I held in my hand - A MUSTARD SEED!
         I said, "You can see how  small  it is! Yet Jesus says,  this
         can  grow into a tree large  enough  for the  birds  to  come
         and  build their nests and lodge there."
         (b) In other words, as far as our faith is concerned,  it  is
         not the present size which matters, but, under the nurture of
         God, what it can become!
         [c] I also reminded them, any  seed  has got to be planted in
         the  right soil -  rather  like  the  parable  of  the  sower
         which Jesus told.
         [d] I said, if  there  is  a  problem  with  the soil of  our
         heart, not being in the right condition, then the  seed  will
         not  grow!  For  example  if   the   soil  of  our  heart  is
         contaminated by sin.
         (e) People have  said  to  me  on  occasions,  about  a whole
         variety of things, "I  can't  do  it   -   I  haven't got the
         faith!" NONSENSE!!
         (d) Many great works of faith, have started from a very small
         seed, and have ended up growing out of all expectations!!


         [a] One thing that is necessary  is visionary faith - to see,
         under the hand of God, what can be!
         [*] David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade,
         was very happy ministering  in  his  little church, until the
         Lord spoke to his heart, and showed him that He wanted him to
         work, in great danger, amongst the teenage gangs of New York,
         who would kill you without a thought - just for fun!
         But he believed in the vision of what God could accomplish in
         their lives, and went forward  in  faith! One of the converts
         of those days, the gang leader, Nicky Cruiz, has become known
         worldwide as he has travelled, giving his life story.
         [b] But the vision can be much  closer  to home! If we have a
         troublesome child in the Sunday  School,  it can be difficult
         to look beyond the present misbehaviour and problems, to what
         he or she can become!
         [c] So often,  I  have  heard  officers,  local  officers and
         others, thank God for the workers who, with spiritual vision,
         looked beyond  the  difficult  child  -  who  was  them,  and
         pictured, with God's  help,  what  they  could become, rather
         than what they were at that time!
         [*] George Bernard Shaw said,  "You  see  things as they are,
         and ask 'why?' But I  dream  things  that never were, and ask
         'why not?'" That is the essence of spiritual vision.


         [a] We are  being  asked,  by  the  General,  the Territorial
         Commander and those in other  positions of central leadership
         in our Army, to look forward into 1996, with VISIONARY FAITH!
         [b] Let's not focus on the  problems, and difficulties in our
         own or other people's spiritual lives,  or that of the corps,
         but let us with spiritual  vision,  look  beyond all that, to
         what God can do - if we believe!
         [c] Some of you may  have  heard  me mention Mother Angelica,
         who is a Nun in America, and  through nothing more than faith
         and prayer, she has built up a Christian satellite television
         network, literally from nothing.
         [d] She said, in a televised  documentary of her  work,  "God
         is looking for people to do  the ridiculous, so that  He  can
         do the miraculous!"
         [e] For her those just  wasn't   empty  words. She had proved
         them in action!  They   were   in   the  process  of having a
         garage built when  the  vision   of   faith  came to her, and
         she went out and told  the   builder,  "Build it bigger, it's
         going to be a television studio!"
         [f] Have we got the visionary faith  to look at our lives and
         say to the Lord, build my spiritual life and witness,  bigger
         better for You! Amen


         [a] In every corps and church, you will find those who whilst
         listening to the spiritual vision  of others, in their hearts
         say, "What  a  lot  of  nonsense!  Just  wait  and  see!" And
         inevitably, when it doesn't come to pass, it's a case of them
         saying, with satisfaction, "I knew it wouldn't happen!"
         [*] They don't realise that they're  a big part of the reason
         it didn't! And to gain  pleasure from something not happening
         for the Kingdom of  God,  is  no  less  than rejoicing in the
         devil's works!
         [b] Often we  say  that  "familiarity  breeds  contempt." And
         nowhere is that seen more  clearly  than  in Matthew 13, when
         Jesus is in His own  home  town,  and  it says, that even the
         Lord Himself couldn't perform many miracles there, because of
         the unbelief! (Matthew 13:58)
         [c] The lack of faith's vision prevents the Lord from working
         out His will.
         [*]  DARE WE suggest that the spiritual vision of the Saviour
         Himself was wanting? Of course not!  BUT WE MUST REALISE THAT
         [d] Can we look at  ourselves  with spiritual vision, and see
         what God can make us?
         [*] Even the disciples were  rebuked  by Jesus, in Mark 16:14
         for their lack of faith,  so  let's  not feel insulted by the
         suggestion that it could apply to us!


         [a] Maybe you can look at me,  and see what the Lord needs to
         make me? That's okay, I've got  a  long way to go before I'll
         be perfect! I should maybe wear  one of those tea-shirts that
         [b] Now all of that is fine, but let's not spend so much time
         putting other people right, that we  miss the point that only
         we, can do something about ourselves - and THAT is our number
         1 priority!
         [c] It's a little  bit  like  the  illustration Jesus used in
         Matthew 7, when He spoke of  the  man trying to take the tiny
         piece of wood out of someone's eye, not realising that he had
         the equivalent of a plank in his own!
         [d] We have at times  been  in  corps  where it has become an
         unhealthy obsession to put other  people right, and the whole
         vision of what God could  do  has  been lost, and turned into
         blinkered vision  -  seeing  little,  and  accomplishing even
         [e] A very sincere brother in  the  Lord had got himself into
         quite a state, because,  with  the  best possible motives, he
         was trying to force other folk to do the things he felt right
         for them. But eventually,  he  realised,  that was the Lord's
         job, and he was just  going  to  worry  himself into an early
         [f] God entrusts us to  sort  out the spiritual priorities in
         our own lives, and only then are we in the position to make a
         difference in the lives of others.
         [g] And that can  only  happen  through our faithful prayers,
         and even tears!  Not  through  gossip, nagging, fault-finding
         complaining or badgering!
         [h] Because none of that  can  bring about a spiritual change
         in the life of someone else - for that is God's work -
         and that is what must happen!
         In fact any signs  of  frustration  on  our  part, could well
         hinder the real spiritual work  from  being done in someone's


         [a] There is not one of  us,  who is perfect or worthy enough
         to pick holes in the life of anyone else!
         [b] As a minister, down  through  the  years, so often I have
         had the unpopular job  of  ministering  on thorny topics, and
         endeavouring  to  apply  the   Word   of  God,  to  different
         situations. That's the ministers job!
         [c] As the man said, "It's a  rotten job, but somebody has to
         do it!" Often  the  easiest  way  is  to  brush  it under the
         carpet, but that's not God's way.
         [d] We don't find the  Old  Testament Prophets getting awards
         for popularity! On the contrary,  they were often running for
         their lives, because the message was so unpopular.
         [e] God's message is not usually a popular one!
         [*] If it has lost it's cutting  edge - if it has turned into
         words of cotton wool that people  like to hear - the preacher
         is failing in  their  job,  and  the  spiritual  needs of the
         people are not being addressed.
         [f] Many of the preachers most  used  by God in days gone by,
         were the most outspoken and abrasive that you could meet!
         [g] Rev. W.P Nicholson, an  Ulster Presbyterian minister, was
         one of the most effective evangelists there in recent years -
         but some  of  the  things  he  preached  were  looked  on  as
         [h] He suggested on one occasion,  that  the road to hell was
         paved with the skulls of Presbyterian ministers!!
         [i] Perhaps he had learned the  art  of overstating a fact in
         order to get a reaction  -  for  if people react, even badly,
         then it shows that  they  have  actually  listened, and taken
         note of what has been said!
         [j] In other words, the seed has  gone in, and it's up to the
         Lord to make it germinate, grow and bear fruit.