I spoke last week about vision and sight, how sight is simply seeing but vision occurs when we add understanding to our sight. Today we will talk about distorted vision and focus
It’s not enough to see, we must strive to understand and perceive what we see. This is true of our physical sight, but specially true of our spiritual vision.
Matthew 6:22-23 (ESV Strong's)
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
If we want to live in abundant life, we need to make sure our vision is healthy. Get our spiritual perspective right and life will go right.
VISION IS SEEING THINGS GOD’S WAY
True vision happens when we see things from God’s perspective, and
like mountain air on a clear day, His view is pure, unsoiled and He sees eternity. I remember once standing on a mountain and seeing 3 countries at once. I could stand in Bavaria in Germany, and look across Austria to Italy in the distance, like looking across the top of the world.
But how can you gain God’s perspective? Well, for years mankind has been trying to become more religious to gain a godlike view of life, but it doesn’t work. The world’s religions tell us that if we meditate more, or do certain rituals, or make certain sacrifices, we can start to see God’s perspective, but they fail miserably. Being more religious won’t help you see life and life’s troubles God’s way.
Matthew 13:15-16 (ESV Strong's)
For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
All the religion in the world doesn’t make you see things God’s way. The only way to have this true, eternal vision is to know God, really, truly know Him. And this can affect every aspect of your life… do you see angels or demons?
ANGELS DEMONS SLIDE
THE ILLUSIONS WE LIVE FOR
Much of modern life and advertising is to sell us things that aren’t real. We love escapism and illusions. A mirage is a phenomenon commonly seen across large flat areas, especially when it is hot. It’s an optical illusion, but when you see a mirage, you would absolutely swear on a stack of Bibles that water was out there. The closer you get to it, the further away it gets from you. You can never obtain it because it does not really exist.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (ESV Strong's)
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
We must recognise that our enemy the devil loves illusions too, and is constantly trying to distort our vision, to convince us to strive towards things that ultimately disappoint, disillusion and often don’t exist. Fame, fortune, money and success seem like clearly visible goals, but they never satisfy. Try chasing a rainbow to get the pot of gold that is rumoured to be at the end of the rainbow. The closer you get, the further away it moves!
University of Sydney psychology professor Dianna Kenny studied 12,665 musicians and stars who died between 1950 and 2014, concluding the chances of famous musicians and rock stars dying from unnatural causes including at suicide are up to 10 times greater than the general population, and that they die up to 25 years younger than average people.
In life, if we chase fame, fortune and success they are like a mirage, and if we build our life on an illusion it is bound to collapse at some point. J D Rockefeller, the richest man in the world at the time, was asked how much money is enough and he replied, “just a little more!”
YOUR VISION AND FOCUS CAN BE DISTORTED
Even if we are striving for the right things in life, our vision can become distorted by things around us. The devil uses external factors to influence the way we see things, just like optical illusions can influence us to change we way we see things. So what kind of things distort our vision so we fail to see God’s truth?
1. IGNORANT SEEING- LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
If you don’t have enough knowledge you cannot understand what you are seeing, and vision is not just seeing something but understanding it. Here’s an example
CHINESE SYMBOL… crisis, danger and opportunity
Now I would say I’m fairly intelligent, I hold a couple of Uni degrees and have 35 years experience as a medical professional, but I cannot tell you what this symbol means. Does that mean I’m dumb? No, I just don’t have the code. I cannot attach meaning to it because I lack essential knowledge.
Hosea 4:6 (ESV Strong's)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
Lack of knowledge destroys truth, and can ultimately destroy you. And the Knowledge to see things God’s way is not general knowledge obtained by researching man’s opinion on the internet, or watching TV or YouTube, and it’s not attained by a some spiritual encounter.
Knowledge to live by only comes from knowing God intimately, and you only get to know Him by reading His Word. That’s why I urge you to read the Word of God, every day, do the Bible reading plan because until you know Him you won’t have the necessary knowledge to live the life He destines for you. Unless you know Him, you don’t have the code.
That’s what optical illusions are about. They use knowledge that you do have, and some that you don’t have, to trick you into thinking something exists when it really doesn’t … let me show you…
2. REVERSE SEEING
You cannot drive a car looking only in the rear view mirror, and you cannot live your life looking back all the time, and letting past hurts, criticisms and pain affect you.
Learning is a product of what you see plus your experience, which gives meaning to what you see. Our ability to see and understand is greatly influenced by our past experiences, but if we rely only on our past experiences, good and bad, the enemy can often convince us of things that don’t even exist.
For many of us, our sight today is affected by what has happened in the past, our experience. I touched on this last week when I said that you are not an accident, you are precious and special, created by God and He knows you best.
No matter what has been said about you in the past, no matter what your reputation, what you’ve done, what others think of you, even what you think of you. You have to learn what God thinks, not what you think based on your past. He says…
Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV Strong's)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was destined for his God appointed ministry from before he was born. This is why Fiona and I started Lily House, to save babies we believe God has a destiny for every person.
Some of you have been deeply hurt by past experiences and words spoken over you, and we need to break that curse, because God sees you as a person of destiny. When you think of things that happened in your past, you give them a power they no longer have. It’s time for the past to become past at last.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV Strong's)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
When you come to Jesus, when you ask Him into your life, you become a new creation. The old has gone, the old sin has lost its hold on you, the old criticisms have no power, the old life, the old reputation, the old addictions can be overcome because you are brand new. We must live it.
Psalms 138:8 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
3. POLLUTED SEEING- FOCUS ON THE WRONG THING
External things can affect how we see, and if we allow stuff into our heads that distorts vision we have no one else to blame for what we permit into our heads except ourselves!
Psalms 101:2-3 (ESV Strong's)
I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
We can choose what we watch, but whatever we watch has the power to distort our vision. Garbage in, garbage out. If we let rubbish TV, trashy reality shows, over sexualised music, extreme violence in movies and games or pornography into our minds, we open our vision up to distortion.
Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong's)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
Putting trashy stuff into your head ruins your spiritual vision. So be careful with what TV shows and movies you watch and what internet sites you hit. If you watch angry, violent movies or play violent video games, you will be a more angry person. If you watch pornography, you begin to see a sexualised image of women you meet.
The Bible, worship songs, great teaching and coming to church renews your mind. It keeps your thoughts positive and godly, pure and wholesome, and it makes you a better husband or wife, a better mother or father, and better human being.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
4. NEGATIVE SEEING
In optometry we have a phenomenon called a negative after image, where the retinal photoreceptors, the rods and cones, adapt to overstimulation and thus lose sensitivity. The photopigment is bleached out of them…
Many people are perpetually negative, and they project this negativity on all kinds of situations, and people. They have had so many previous negative experiences, they project these on everything and everyone. You might describe yourself as glass half empty kinda person, but you will never rise above the cares of this world and you will never reach your God appointed destiny if you are constantly negative. Whatever your past experience, it’s time to change from your stinking thinking to positive, life giving thinking…
2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV Strong's)
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
So when you have a negative thought, don’t invite it in, don’t make a bed for it is the spare room, take it captive a neutralise it, and do it fast, because negativity is infectious and will ruin you spiritual vision!
Let’s look at some negative afterimages…
NEGATIVE AFTER IMAGES
5. SELECTIVE SEEING
All of us have blind spots in our vision. Some are obvious, others subtle.
Mums and dads often have a blind spot when it comes to their kids. They see their kids as little angels, despite an obvious trail of destruction.
Years ago, my brothers-in-law’s daughter use to hit and hurt my girls, and we had told them not to retaliate. I gently mentioned it to him, and he told me I was bringing up weakling princesses and that they should toughen up. My daughters begged me to let them defend themselves, so we agreed, just this once. Next minute the dad was at me accusing me of raising a brood of thugs!
In the eye everybody has a blind spot at the point in their visual field where the optic disk is situated. It’s normal. And in our lives, we all have blind spots.
Matthew 7:4-5 (ESV Strong's)
how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
We often find faults in others in areas of life that are in reality our own faults.
6. FOGGED SEEING
Fiona and I once visited a high mountain for a view across the Alps, and after €40 and several cable car rides, we reached the top and saw this…
We’re the mountains still there? Of course, but the fog had rolled in and we could not see them. And sometimes the truth is there, right in front of you, but mist and cloud obscures its presence. The enemy is really good at this, and typically he uses the media to cloud our vision.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV Strong's)
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
If he can blow enough smoke or doublespeak people will be blinded to truth, and even the vision of believers can be fogged. Our society is expert in renaming things and changing people’s perception.
Instead of adultery we talk about having an affair. Instead of homosexual marriage we talk of marriage equality. Everyone wants equality, right? Instead of referring to an unborn baby as a baby or a person, they talk of a foetus, they dehumanise the child, trying to obscure the fact that the number one cause of death in Australia is not heart disease, suicide or car crash it’s abortion!
Christians, guard carefully what you believe, and be wary of the smoke and fog that the media throws into your face, or otherwise you will find yourself being convinced of things that are not true, or unable to live, think and behave the way God wants you to.
MEANING SLIDES… (even the way you think!)
Pray and seek God about moral issues, don’t fall for the popular ideas. It can affect how you see important things in life, and obscure the truth behind a sea of foggy issues.
WHAT YOU FOCUS ON…
But there is a simple way you can begin to live the life you dream of, and the life God has planned for you.
George Lucas the director of Star Wars once said, “Your focus determines your reality.” When you focus on problems, you get more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities. When yOi focus I’m what you want, you become selfish. And when you focus on Jesus, you can live a significant, godly and righteous life. Focus is like the edge of a knife. The narrower it is, the sharper it cuts. So what you focus on in life, and every day, day after day, truly matters in the long run.
The human eye is an amazing thing, and it is plugged into a brain that is even more amazing. We’ve looked at all the pressures that distort our true spiritual vision, those from inside of us and those from outside of us, and after this you might find yourself confused or discouraged by the state your life is in.
Colossians 3:2 (ESV Strong's)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
The Greek word for “set your mind” is PHRONEO, which means set your mind, direct it towards, exercise it, seek and strive for. A fair translation would be to focus your mind in things above, on God’s view, not your own, not the world, not your past and not what others say or think… God’s view.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV-WS)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The message puts it this way…
Hebrews 12:1-2 (MSG)
It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
Graham Cooke said, “What we focus on we give power to,” and he is right. If you focus on your problems, your inadequacies or how difficult your lot in life is, these ruin your eternal vision. But if you focus on Jesus, the things of this earth seem to grow, dare I say it, strangely dim. Look at this…
PERIPHERY IMAGE AND FOCUS
We previously talked about negative after images, those negatives we project onto everything, but we can also talk about positive after images. If you turn your eyes upon Jesus, if you fix your eyes on Him, if you are so focussed on Him so that nothing else matters, then everything changes… forever.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
JESUS AFTER IMAGE SLIDE
If you do not know this Jesus, I want to give you the chance to know Him right now. If you’ve drifted far from Him, maybe it’s time to refocus on Jesus.
As we move forward I want to call you to project Jesus not every situation as we face our future together.