Matthew 6: 19-34
1. “The eyes are the lamp of the body”. As I read those words my mind immediately flashed back to the old Superman comics I read as a kid or even the Superman movie as you would see “the man of steel” able to visually focus in on any object with those laser beam eyes and instantly burn or blast through rock or steel or any tough obstacle.
• Well, the picture that Jesus is giving us here, is not that of a beam of light that goes OUT from our eyes – but rather that radiates INWARD into our mind, our heart, our soul and illumines our inner being – dispelling the darkness inside.
2. I would like you to visualize your eyes as being God’s Floodlights for your body, because floodlights throw light over a large area and can be aimed to put light just exactly where you need it.
• We use floodlights for security – to help minimize crime
• For all kinds of outdoor events and sports games at night
• Fire, rescue, and police all have them mounted on their vehicles
• Good floodlights can make the nighttime as bright as the day
• And good eyes and clear vision will do exactly the same thing within you
3. So how does one come to have this “Floodlight Vision”? Very simply, it boils down to a matter of a single choice – a single decision.
• This is not one of those multiple choice decisions where you can pick and choose from a wide variety of options what you think will best suit you
• Jesus has a way of getting right down to the nitty gritty and reminding us that life is very simply a matter of radically choosing FOR Him or AGAINST Him – of LOVING Him or HATING Him.
• He says “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
4. Now those seem very stark and extreme terms to us. But what He is saying is that when you compare the loves we may have for God and other things – then the difference is to be as great as night and day or love and hate.
• And God cannot be loved in that sense along with a host of other things – money, pleasure, entertainment, or any other thing.
• While loving other things and even other people may well satisfy and please us and meet our needs for a time, loving God is what fulfills and satisfies our eternal worth and value and purpose and then enables us to live life primarily as a giver rather than a recipient.
• I know this is a mixing of metaphors here but Jesus said that whoever drinks from Him would come to have a well of water bubbling up from within them and flowing out as a channel of refreshment to others and the world.
5. So what transforms you and me into free-flowing channels of God’s blessing to others is first of all choosing to be people of single-minded and focused vision on the One who came as The Light of the World.
• It is a matter of deciding that He and He alone is going to be our treasure and that is where our heart will be also.
• Few human beings have a hard time giving themselves to the things and people that are most important in their lives. Hunters, golfers, fishermen don’t need much of an excuse to bump other important matters from their schedule in favor of an opportunity to engage in their favorite activity. Spending time with the person you passionately love is by no means one of your wearying decisions.
• It is the same way when God is your first love.
6. Now when we have made that choice and keep focused on that choice we will find that an entirely new orientation begins to take place within our lives. As God’s light starts to stream into all the previously darkened and shadowy places within us we start experiencing a transformation in two specific arenas:
• First, we start noticing a new sense of inner contentment and peace
• Second, we start experiencing a new desire and joy for doing those things that bring honor to God and expand His Kingdom – His blessed government within and beyond our sphere of influence
• Let’s briefly look at those two areas:
A. A NEW SENSE OF INNER CONTENTMENT AND PEACE
1. You notice that after Jesus has said that we can really only love and serve ONE Master and we need to choose who or what it will be, He goes on to say, “Therefore…”
• And a great Bible teacher once taught me that whenever you see the word “therefore” in Scripture, you need to ask “what it’s there for”.
• In other words what follows is the consequence or result or the outcome of what has gone before.
2. So, the primary outcome or consequence of making the decision to “turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, is that the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”
• And with that new mindset and perspective comes a true and lasting peace that does not wear off like the effects of some anti anxiety or anti stress pill or drug.
• I can then look at and marvel at how wonderfully God cares for the birds of the air that neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns and know that He will take even greater care of me because I am His beloved child.
• I can then reflect on the magnificent variety and color of the flowers of the field that are here today and gone tomorrow and be amazed that King Solomon with all his enormous wealth could not compare with their beauty.
3. We live in a world that is stress and anxiety inducing. There are all kinds of pressures and noises that come upon us all the time seeking to dominate our thinking and our emotions.
• It can be worries about our health or that of our loved ones. Worries about our finances. Worries about our political future. Worries about the weather. Worries about our being accepted or liked by others. Worries about our looks, or our height, or our hair loss. Worries about the church roof. And on and on and on.
• Now there are some things we tend to worry about that we CAN change and some things we CANNOT. Worrying about our health or a poor relationship when there are certain things we can do and steps we can take to improve the situation is silly. Get up and start taking some action. Worrying about things I cannot control – like my skin color, my ethnicity, my height, the weather, etc. is foolish because there is nothing I can do about them to make any changes.
• Just a side note on that matter – God has been known to intervene on His people’s behalf before in situations that seemed impossible of any change, and I suspect He is open to sometimes doing so again as He sees fit. But remember how He opened the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk through on dry ground. Remember how He let the sun stand still for Joshua. Remember how He opened blind eyes, healed the lame, cleansed lepers, raised Lazarus from four days in the tomb, and overcame death Himself.
• Now a sense of caution and alertness to various warning signals is one thing – that is a good thing – it is good to take note of the warning signs and then take what specific and concrete action you can to deal with those things – change your diet, get some exercise, make an appointment with a qualified financial counselor, see your doctor, talk with your pastor…and so on.
• But if we allow the pressure and noise of these stress inducing factors to gain the upper hand by giving to them more attention than they deserve – by taking our eyes and our focus off the source of our Light, then we start drifting back into the shadows, back into the darkness and with it goes our peace and contentment.
4. It is the one who peacefully and confidently lies back on the water with their face up who is best able to float. But the one who stiffens muscles, struggles, and flaps – looking fearfully at the waves – is the one who starts to sink.
5. In Matthew 8 we have this powerful story of Jesus and His disciples out on the boat on the Sea of Galilee and a horrendous storm came up, so strong that these experienced fishermen feared that they were going to drown. And while this storm is raging, Jesus is fast asleep.
• Because even in His sleep time His focus was directed towards His Father so that He allowed nothing to rob Him of His peace.
• When His disciples shook Him awake, He asked why they were afraid and then immediately took action by telling the winds and the waves to settle down.
• And when God’s Light likewise fills your life and being, you in like manner have the authority to still raging storms that would threaten you and your loved ones.
• Start exercising that authority with humility and confidence.
B. A NEW DESIRE AND JOY TO SEE GOD’S KINGDOM COME AND HIS WILL BE DONE
1. The second outcome of allowing our eyes to become wide open windows to God’s Light is that we start desiring for others and our world the same peace and joy and contentment that has flooded our lives and so we start giving ourselves to those actions and behaviors that will facilitate the growth and advancement of God’s blessed government within our sphere of influence – our homes, our families, our neighborhood, our schools, our cities, our churches...
• And we discover that as we do that – as we make God’s agenda THE PRIORITY in our lives – He really does take care of all the other things that we need in order to do our job.
2. Isn’t that the way it works in any company or business worth its salt that they provide you with all the tools and materials you need to do your job.
• Imagine what a time a company would have getting any employees if each employee would have to purchase and use their own computer, their own paper, their own envelopes, etc for doing the company’s business.
• Imagine a young student applying for a job at McDonald’s to flip hamburgers and the company tells him he’s got the job but to work there he has to purchase the hamburger patties, buns, trimmings and ketchup himself and not share equally in the profits. NO WAY is he or she going to work there!
3. Do you think that God, the Creator and Owner of all things, and your loving Father, is going to be less considerate of you and your needs than McDonald’s or any other earthly company?
• By no means!
• He already knows and cares about all the things we need to live, stay clothed and fed, stay healthy, stay encouraged and energized and get around to do His will and He has already made full provision for everything you and I need.
• Do you believe that? Then make that your daily affirmation of faith. "Lord, I thank you that you have already made full and complete provision for all my needs today. Nothing that comes across my path today will be a surprise to you and I look forward to what you have to teach me through it that I might bring honor to your name." With that mindset and that trust, what is there that will be able to overwhelm and overpower you?
• Last Sunday we prayed and thanked God for the person He had already provided to accept the ministry of keeping a record of our prayer request and God’s answers and on Wednesday evening Ellen told me she had bought a book and was ready start today! Isn’t that amazing! Isn’t God good? And He will meet and abundantly provide for Ellen’s needs as she serves Him in this work.
• And the same goes for each and every one of us here.
4. So by way of response, I invite you now to make the cross - the visual representation of God’s love in Jesus Christ our Lord - the focus of your gaze – and as you do so, welcome the Light and Love of God to shine in through your open eyes into every facet of your being
• Into your mind and all your thoughts – the positive and the negative
• Into your memories – those that bring you joy and peace as well as those that still cause you pain and sadness and remorse
• Into your attitudes – those that liberate and lift as well as those that condemn and harbor bitterness and resentment
• Let God’s Light flood the speech center of your brain and re-write your speech patterns – making way for praise and blessing and forgiving and encouraging conversation to flow from your lips
• Welcome God’s Light into your ears and your hearing causing you to delight in His Word
• Welcome His Light into your heart and filling your affections with love for Him and all people
• Welcome His Light into your arms and legs, your feet and your hands enabling you to walk in His ways and do good with your hands – to bless and hug and embrace all who need Him.