Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

October 2, 2016 @ LA County Raceway – 2016 OTHG South National

Welcome and thank you for making time this morning, early morning that is, to gather together for a time of fellowship and what I hope will also be a time of encouragement for you. Right now our country is well into the final stretch of the 2016 Presidential Election cycle.  As such there are a lot of discussions going on about the future direction and vision of our country and its downstream impact upon the world stage.  So I’d like to start first with a lighter take on things with a few presidential trivia questions!

Can you name which President made these quotes famous?

  1. “We hold these truths to be self – evident that all men are created equal” – Thomas Jefferson
  2. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin Roosevelt

Presidential Trivia Question:

  1. Name this President who has these four distinctions:
    1. The only President to head a labor union – Screen Actors Guild
    2. Was the only President to have been divorced – Divorced Jane Wynman, last married Nancy Davis
    3. Was the oldest President elected to office @ 69 yrs 11 mo and served until 77 yrs 11 mo.
    4. Had the greatest Electoral College votes for President? 525-13 vs Walter Mondale 1984

President Ronald Reagan

All above references are from  “American Trivia Quiz Book” by Richard Lederer & Caroline Mc Cullagh 2014

And as it always appears to be the case during the Presidential Election season that our country is being shaken with accusations and uncertainty, I have one important question to ask of you.  Who’s in charge of everything? Who knows the results even before the vote is actually taken? (Remember Colossian 1:17, John 14:27) Yes, God is in control and we need to get back to that firstly this morning.  So let’s try not to get too immersed into the Presidential frothiness that is so whipped up this cycle!

So on the topic of leadership and vision and particularly as it pertains to certain aspects of our personal lives and our civic lives, there’s one thing that I feel is most critical and transcends our natural existence here on Earth but is also crucial for our spiritual life.  What could be more important than our vision and our eyes?

As I’m looking out to all of your here this morning, is their anyone here today who would be willing to sell their eyes?  For your mother/father?  For your son/daughter?  For science?  For the good of all mankind?  At any price?

I think we all would agree that our eyes are a primary function of living and no amount of money would be worth to purposely remove our ability to see.  What would you then say about someone’s quality of life if for some unforeseen incident that their eyes stopped being able to perform?  I pray that no one has this happen, but hypothetically it would be a drastic change. In our culture today it would be termed a lowering of the “quality of life”.  In deed as we age there are some age related things that can occur like Cataracts, Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Diabetic Eye Disease, and Glaucoma.  Any one of these can be quite devastating if it’s not detected early.

So let’s direct our attention, to press in and look to Scripture to try to determine something about the state of our spiritual eyes and our spiritual “vision”.

I would think most of us here today are acquainted with the account in the book of John Chapter 9 where Jesus heals a man born blind.

John 9:1-7 NIV

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

1 As he (Jesus) went along (with his disciples), he saw a man blind from birth.

2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.

7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

In verse 9:3 we read that this man was born blind to display the works of God.  Wow!  Now think about that … and put yourself in this man situation.  Born blind from birth!  That’s quite overwhelming for me to consider, how about you?  Now Jesus says he was born for this purpose and we can read in Exodus 4:11 that it is in fact the LORD who has done it. For the Pharisees of that time, they would have / should have known this explicitly.  They were the experts in the Law.

Exodus 4:11 NIV – The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

Reviewing Old Testament Scripture we find that Jesus was prophesied to be the one who gives sight to the blind. We read this in Psalm 146:8 and Isaiah 29:18, 35:5.

Psalm 146:8 NIV – the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.

Isaiah 29:18 NIV – In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.

Isaiah 35:5 NIV – Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

It’s also recorded that when Jesus was performing miraculous healings, the people praised God!

Matthew 21:14 NIV – The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

Matthew 15:31 NIV – The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Although in the account of John Chapter 9, the Pharisees said that Jesus was a sinner and therefore not from God,

John 9:16 ESV – Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

and yet there was at least one Pharisee who believed in Jesus named Nicodemus who states very clearly that God was with him and that all the Pharisees knew it.  This meeting with Jesus took place before the blind man’s healing noted in Chapter 9!

John 3:1-2 ESV – 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

So if you review all of Scripture, the New Testament attests to the fact that it was only with Jesus’ that blind men were healed and there are couple other accounts noted in the Gospels.  However I can find no references in the Old Testament of blindness being healed.  That makes this situation unique to Jesus and to His ministry.  This fact was state by the now healed blind man, who by the way had no formal theological training!

John 9:32 NIV – Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.

Although much of the accounts noted in Scripture were about physical blindness, Jesus provides some insight as to the nature of true blindness because he contrasts that lack of spiritual sight of the Pharisees in John 9:39-41.

John 9:39-41 NIV – 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

What this portion of Scripture seems to point to is that the Pharisees who were in charge of teaching the whole Law to the people were in fact blind to Jesus, the promised Messiah! Thus they were guilty of not “seeing” Jesus in the Scriptures and therefore were not teaching the people about him.

This fact is noted via a separate prophecy (that I won’t go into today) regarding when the Messiah would actually enter Jerusalem … the actual month and day was predicted (Dan 9:26a).  But going back to teaching the people about Jesus, do any of you recall the account in the New Testament Scripture in the book of Luke where Jesus wept over Jerusalem?  Why did he cry?  He wept over Jerusalem because the people did not know when He was coming to them, and more specifically on that very day.

Luke 19:41-44 ESV – 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

 Application Example

So you may ask, what does it look like to have “spiritual” vision?  Spiritual vision is the ability to see the situation in the way Scripture teaches.  Do we take the worldly or legalistic approach first like the Disciples did with the man born blind?  Or do we instead realize that we need to apply Scripture (using our Biblical filters) into each and every situation?

I had a teaching moment several years ago and it came from my wife and it directly applies to our subject today.  At the time my wife was working at Christian School as a teacher.  One day for lunch she went to a fast food establishment that was close by.  As she was walked up to the entrance she noticed a woman sitting alone and she was crying.

Now let’s stop for a moment right there.  What might you think a typical response would be for a man who walked up and saw this same situation?  Wouldn’t our culture suggest that the man would say to himself something like “Woah.  That woman’s got problems”, or “See we (men) are not emotional like that!”.  However, what about the typical woman’s response?  Wouldn’t our culture also suggest some type of holier-than-thou kind of response?  My point here is that our culture has programmed us through various aspects of media and “political correctness“ to look down on people with misfortune or to express sarcasm or disdain in the public arena.  Making light of an emotional situation for someone should never be taken at their expense, and yet the availability within all our media, cable, internet and more so with our phones is full of such popularized division.

So let’s get back to my teaching moment and my wife’s encounter with this woman.  My wife was intending to solve her lunch hunger call by going to the fast food place, but she took one look at this woman and did the un-thinkable!  She walked up to the woman and softly asked “Are you alright?” The woman did not respond.  Then my wife asked “Do you need anything?” The woman did not respond.  Finally, my wife asked “Can I pray with you?” and the woman nodded her head in agreement. So my wife spent her lunch time praying with this woman and as such demonstrated to me that she looked upon this woman with spiritual eyes by looking out for the needs of others.

Philippians 2:4 ESV Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

This is was my conviction and this is the practical application… to look with your biblical filter first to see what the Lord may have for the situation, then you can readily see what else may be needed!

Application Opportunities

So what can we say about ourselves and having a proper understanding of our own spiritual sight?  The first thing to ask is, are we looking for Jesus in everything?  Old and New Testament tells us to seek the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV – 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Luke 10:27 NIV – 27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

The second is question is, are we looking for Jesus in every part of our lives?  The life verse for this ministry if Proverbs 3:5-6 which tells us to not lean on our knowledge and wisdom of things, but we are to acknowledge God in everything. I know for myself I have frequently needed to rest on that verse and thank the Lord for the situation and for His timing.

There’s also another part of our daily walk that is so crucial and it involves a personal choice that only you can make.  No one can make it for you, nor can you “tag along” with someone else’s choices.  Are we looking for all the opportunities to reflect God’s character as we go about our days? The Apostle Paul urges us to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1)

Ephesians 5:1 ESV – 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

You may ask, so what does that mean to me? How can I imitate God or Jesus? Maybe first consider what God has done for you.  Keep your personal testimony close to your heart.  Remember when you first received His saving grace.

You can also think about the fruits of the Spirit as noted in Galatians 5:22-23a:

Galatians 5:22-23a ESV – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control;

But more specifically, what about our spiritual blindness as Jesus indicated to the Pharisees?  We each will have a measure of understanding and ability to see our lives from a Scriptural perspective, but we must be willing to work at it.  It has often been expressed to me in this way and I will share with you this truth.

If you want to know God’s will for your life you must be willing to learn what God wants from you. That means reading your Bible and reading the examples that are presented in the Bible, through the historical accounts that are there for our understanding and study.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Concluding Remarks

From your message card that we handed out, here is the answer to the fill in the blank:

  1. JESUS         is the only one who can provide us with    SPRITUAL         VISION    .

(Psalm 146:8, Isaiah 35:5, Matt 21:14)

20161002_can_you_see_me_now-audienceThis is a true statement:  That only Jesus provides us with the ability to have any kind of spiritual vision because the things of God can only be discerned spiritually (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV) and all of Scripture is the embodiment of Jesus (John 1:1-14)!

So in closing, I would like for you to hear, but to also “see” what the Apostle Peter is saying about how each of us needs to consider the growing changes from our former self that are allowing us to not only see changes within our own walk, but also to be able to personally acknowledge that the ability to spiritually discern means that we are applying the teachings of Christ into our lives!

2 Peter 1:3-11 NIV

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,

11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let each of us not continue in our respective spiritual blindness, but let us press on and encourage one other as we continue forward, looking to the future, using our Biblical filters so that we can better utilize our spiritual eyes for God’s purposes!  As Scripture states … if we do these things, we will not stumble and we will be able to clearly see ahead of ourselves … physically and spiritually!

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