Wouldn’t it be great to have X-Ray vision. Or to see so far ahead you could see into eternity?
Of course we cannot do this, but God can do this. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the eyes of God installed into our heads, so we could see like He does? The great news is that we can have this spiritual transplant, we can begin to see as He sees, and when this starts to happen it’s a game changer… it champagnes everything.
And because vision does something incredible not only in our heads but also in our hearts, I wanted to do a series on vision, and as an Optometrist, who better to speak on it, right?
VISION IS NOT JUST SEEING
Matthew 13:14-15 (ESV Strong's)
In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
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.’
Jesus talked about a people, His people, who were seeing the truths of God but not perceiving them. They were religious, pious and dedicated, but hey missed the entire point!
Helen Keller once said, “I have walked with people whose eyes are full of light but who see nothing. They see nothing in the woods or sky, nothing in sports, nothing on the street. Their soul’s voyage through this enchanted world is a barren waste.”
The difference between sight and vision might seems slight, but it can be an enormous gulf. Vision moves beyond just seeing something, it is understanding it. Perception is not simply the act of seeing, it is making sense of what we see. It adds meaning to what our physical eyes see.
We all see the same things, but we do not all have understanding of what we are seeing.
ETERNAL VISION… THE VISION OF FAITH
Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NIV)
Meaningless, meaningless, says the teacher, everything is meaningless.
Life without faith, without vision, is meaningless. When you ask Jesus into your life suddenly many of the things that seemed meaningless in life now have meaning, because you know that God has a higher purpose for you.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV Strong's)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We see many things around us, but truly inspirational people, whether they know Jesus or not, seem to see more than others. Great leaders, great business people, great sportsmen always have a vision. A vision not of what they physically see, but of what might become.
The truest vision is the vision of faith. The world says, “Seeing is believing”; the Gospel says, “Believing is seeing.” And the deeper your faith, the closer your walk with God, the more you start to make sense of the world around us.
DALMATIAN SLIDE, FROG HORSE SLIDE, LIAR SLIDE
There is a great spiritual world that we’ve never seen with our physical eyes. It’s there, we just cannot perceive it, but if we could perceive it it would change the way we live, what’s important to us and how we spend our time, money and effort.
Remember Elisha and his servant. Surrounded by Syrian troops the servant panicked, but
2 Kings 6:17 (ESV Strong's)
Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
SHOULD WE HAVE TWO SETS OF EYES?
As Christians, we have the opportunity to develop 2 sets of eyes.
There is a little fish called “Four Eyes,” in the Amazon, which features large, bulging eyes on top of his head. This fish can cruise just under the top of the water, with the upper half of each eye above the surface. The top half of his eyes has a different lens, which amounts to a set of bifocals, giving the fish the ability to see both above the water and beneath it.
That’s the kind of vision we need as Christians. We need to have our eyes fixed on the needs of those around us and be aware of the snares of the enemy; but at the same time, we should have eyes that look up into a different atmosphere, fixing our eyes on Jesus and eternity!
As we sang today: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.”
When we have the vision of faith it affects how we perceive many things…
1. HOW DO YOU SEE GOD?
Many people see God as angry and vindictive, out to ruin their life and ruin their fun, but nothing could be further from the truth!
Matthew 5:8 (ESV Strong's)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
God loves you. He is not vindictive, He is not angry at you, He is not trying to ruin your fun or your life, He actually has a plan for you. But if you ignore Him, if you don’t listen to His directions, why should He prosper you into the life you’ve always dreamed of? How can He ever do this, if you never run towards Him but always run away from Him?
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV Strong's)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
When you have the right perception, you will see God as who He truly is… a loving, caring Father who wants the best for you, and is on your side! And when you seek Him, He promises you’ll find Him.
So if you are distant from God right now, turn to Him! Most people ignore God, ignore His direction, go their own selfish way, satisfy their own selfish whims, then when it all fails, they blame not themselves and their own foolish decisions, but God…
Proverbs 19:3 (ESV Strong's)
When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.
But God is there, and if you have eyes to see, you’ll see His hand everywhere…
2. HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?
Most people are selfish, but they most often don’t like themselves. Look in the mirror, do you like hat you see? Maybe you’ve been put down by a parent or partner, told you are worthless and you’ll never amount to anything. And maybe your life so far has become a self fulfilling prophecy. But when you get eternal vision, you see things properly, when you gain vision instead of just sight, you start to believe God who says you are precious and special… David writes,
Psalms 139:13-14 (ESV Strong's)
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
- Babies in the womb grow 8,000 brain cells per second
- You have a unique smell (that’s how your dog knows who you are)
- You have 300 million capillaries in your lungs. Stretched out tip to tip they would stretch from Townsville to Melbourne
- If all your arteries, veins and capillaries were laid end to end they would reach around the world 2 ½ times
- Your bones are 4 times stronger than concrete. So strong a matchbox size piece of bone can support 9 tonnes of weight
- You are so hot, in 30 minutes your body produces enough heat to boil 2 litres of water
- Your brain has 70,000 thoughts per day, and can recognise and remember 50,000 different scents
-If your eye was a digital camera it would be 576 megapixels and distinguish 10 million different colours
- If uncoiled, the DNA in all the cells of your body stretches from here to Pluto and back again (10 billion miles).
So start seeing yourself as God does… fearfully and wonderfully made, someone of purpose, destiny and value.
3. HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE?
Eternal vision affects how we see people. Most people see other people as commodities, asking “What can I get from this person? What can this person do for me?” Even when we come to Christ, we still are basically selfish and often see others as servants to our end or our causes.
But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, your vision starts to change. You begin to see other people, all other people, as precious, as valuable, and as lost without Jesus. Black or white, rich or poor, gay or straight, every person has value in God’s eyes. The Holy Spirit can help you see people as God does, and so you are able to look behind the behaviour, the tantrums, the selfishness, the deception and the anger to see the pain, the hurt and the fear that drives this behaviour.
Start seeing with God’s eyes and you see people differently…
Eternal vision allows you to see the heart of people, and to love them unconditionally.
1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV Strong's)
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
4. HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES?
The clearer sight we have of the power of heaven, the less we shall fear the troubles of earth. When you have eternal vision, you realise the truth that circumstances don’t determine your destiny, choices do.
Psalms 112:6-7 (ESV Strong's)
For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
As Ps Bill shared last week, no matter what you face, no matter what life throws up at you, if you know God and you trust Him, you have nothing to fear. God is a good God, on your best day and also your worst day. He never changed, from everlasting to everlasting He is God,
Malachi 3:6 (ESV Strong's)
“For I the Lord do not change;
What changes is us, when we look at the circumstances. Like Peter walking on water until he looked around and saw the wind and the waves, and began to sink. We shouldn’t be just getting by under the circumstances, we should be living above the circumstances! Outside influences affect how we see things.
SLIDE OF EXTERNAL FACTORS AFFECTING OUR VISION
5. HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR FUTURE?
How we see our circumstances also affects how we see our future. Many of us face struggles, face difficulties, face fears, sickness, lack of money, conflict, shame. Yet this morning, God would say look beyond what is happening now in your life to the future I have for you!
Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
You can face anything if you have vision for eternity. You can put up with any pain, any trial, and sickness, any temptation, if your eyes are fixed on Jesus. It’s not about sight, because we all see the same thing. It’s about vision, seeing things God’s way, it’s about how we understand and interpret the things we see, all from God’s point of view.
My life is but a weaving Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow; And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares; Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those Who leave the choice to Him.
WITHOUT A VISION PEOPLE PERISH
The most famous verse in the Bible on vision, oft quoted, is this…
Proverbs 29:18 (ESV Strong's)
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
The Hebrew word for vision is HAZON, which means a revelation, dream or oracle from God. The word for perish is PARA, meaning cut loose, throw off restraint, to rebel, neglect and perish. It means to self destruct, and if you look around our coast, that’s what you see people doing. Whether it’s self destructing in drugs or alcohol, whether it’s sleeping around, or following worthless ideas, whether it’s just sitting in front of the TV wasting your one life.
People without a God given, Holy Spirit inspired, eternal vision for their life often self destruct! Even if things go well, for them they seem to find a way to sabotage it.
If their vision is on themselves, their lack of ability, their adverse circumstances, their fears of the future, whatever they face can conquer them because they do not have eyes that see the big picture, the long term goal.
Vision is what drives you forward when all around is dark. We have a vision here at Ignite, to see our church reach our community for Jesus, to see lives changed, and so this vision gives us a purpose, and drives us to move to a different location, to invest more time, more money, more energy.
Without a God given vision in your life, without a revelation of how He sees you and the plans He has for you to prosper and not harm you, most people stunt their potential and eventually destroy themselves, sometimes rapidly in an drug overdose or car crash, but many times slowly over years, fading away into drab insignificance. God doesn’t want that for you. God has big plans for your life, because you are precious and special and full of destiny and potential, if only you’d see yourself as He sees you, and listen and obey.
LIFE DESTROYS DREAMS AND VISION
For most people, the longer you live the more your visions and dreams die. Remember as a kid growing up, you could imagine yourself being anything. A doctor, a lawyer, a world class footballer, a rock star. Someone famous, someone important, someone rich and successful and beautiful. Someone of significance in the world.
But then you go to school, where perhaps less than stellar marks roll in. Some dreams die, but some survive to graduate school, maybe Uni or your first job. You get married maybe, and you think as a couple the world is your oyster, you have dreams of the perfect life, the perfect family. Then somebody, somewhere, somehow along the way, straightens you up and brings you back down to earth. A few mundane jobs, a few fights with relatives, a loss of something or someone you hold dear, and more dreams die.
Today is the day we open our eternal eyes and see again the vision God has for our lives, our futures, our hopes! Seeing things His way puts shattered dreams back together.
HABAKKUK- THE PROPHET WITH ETERNAL VISION
As an Optometrist , I can give you glasses that will help you see clearer, but I can’t give you you eternal vision, vision to understand life’s challenges. Only God can.
Habakkuk was a prophet in the Bible who was watching the nation he loved fall apart. They faced invasion and enslavement by a cruel people, the Babylonians, and they were taken into exile, without a future and utterly without hope. He questioned God’s love for them, and His justice, and God have him a vision…
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (ESV Strong's)
And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Having eternal, Holy Spirit inspired, Jesus focused vision gives you a hope and a purpose and a destiny that drives you on, though the best of times and the worst of times, even if the vision seems delayed. Habakkuk wrote the vision down, studied it, cherished it, drew inspiration and hope from it.
And when his world fell to bits, when he was tired and flat and uninspired, when life seemed to just be an endless grinding on of misery and trouble, he not only started to see things God’s way, but he actually began to rejoice. His eternal vision caused him to rejoice in the face of complete disaster, to see goodness and joy and light in the darkest of places. See with God’s eyes, and you too will have this incredible power to rejoice in the face of disaster, pain and loss.
And that is the challenge to you today. What ever you are going through, whether you are at the top or the bottom, having good days or bad, will you covenant to see with the top part of the bifocal, to see eternity God’s way, to focus on Jesus and not on your circumstances, and see joy even in the tough times… Will you say with the prophet,
Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV Strong's)
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
If you are facing daunting challenges today, if you feel overwhelmed and feel like it’s just so hard to focus on things eternal, come to Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong's)
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.