Summary: Christians are called to try to see the whole picture and not focus only on the present or on heaven.

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February 9, 2003

Morning Service

Text: Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

Subject: The Work of the Lord

Title: Photography 101: Where is Your Focus

I used to consider myself a camera buff. I have a Pentax P-3 camera body with a nice Tokina 28-70 lens. That means that you can take pictures at a wide angle or you can zoom in to get a close up of your subject. One thing about manual focus cameras that I really like is that you are not tied down to look at things from only one perspective. As I said, you can zoom in and take pictures of far away objects or you can get a wide - angle shot. You can also slow down the shutter speed so you can take pictures without a flash. It allows more light to come in so you do not have to use a flash. You also have the ability to focus on one particular object by setting your f-stop at a lower number, in the case of my camera you can set the f- stop on 22 and get a clear picture of every object in the picture, from the very closest object to the one farthest away. Quite unlike the human eye. Try it. Hold your hand up in front of your face and focus on it. Everything else beyond your hand looks fuzzy doesn’t it?

Often our vision of God’s reality is more like the human eye than a camera. We tend to be able to focus on only one thing at a time. God’s word repeatedly tells us that we are to look at the total picture in an effort to try to gain an understanding of what God is doing in our lives, in the church, and in the world from an eternal viewpoint.

When we go to the eye doctor we go through many tests, but the ultimate goal is to improve our vision. When the lens prescription is at its best we can read the bottom line on the card. God is calling us today to stop reading the easy line on the card and to begin moving our f-stop to a higher number. He wants His people to see clearly both what He is doing now, and the big picture as it relates to distant events.

Today we want to look at three areas of our spiritual focus.

One: We need to focus on the present.

Two: We must begin to see the big picture.

Three: We can set our sights on eternity.

Today let’s see if we can improve our spiritual eyesight and read the bottom line.

I. We must focus on the present. (Verses 9-11a)

What profit has a worker from that in which he labors?

There two kinds of workers. Those who work for God and those who work for the devil. That’s a fact of life.

We know we are called to work. In Genesis 3 labor becomes toil because of the fall of man. It is part of the curse. God created man to be stewards of the earth.

That would require work but it was not intended to be a burden. Since the seed of Adam inherits the curse of the fall mankind struggles in its work. Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker that says, I owe, I owe, so off to work I go. For a vast portion of the workforce, that’s the best reason they can muster for going to the job each day. According to one poll, only 43 percent of American office workers are satisfied with their jobs. In Japan, the figure dips to 17 percent. In the first century, Christian slaves had even less reason to be enthusiastic about their work. But Paul gave them a way to grasp a glimpse of glory amid the grind. He wanted them to "adorn the doctrine of God," that is, to show the beauty of their faith in Christ by how they work (Ti. 2:10). A significant and often overlooked way that we serve God is in our everyday tasks. Martin Luther understood this when he wrote, "The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays -- not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship." (Our Daily Bread, Sept. 94) Those who work for God go through their lives without complaining. Paul wrote to the Philippian church, "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." (Philippians 2:14-15)

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