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Summary: Priorities, Focus, Church Life

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AN “I” EXAM: Restoring Our Vision for Christ’s Mission – Without a Vision We Die

Proverbs 29:18 (p. 458) April 17, 2016

Introduction:

I took my 90 year old mom to the eye doctor a little while ago...she suffers with glaucoma...I won’t give you all the scientific definitions or symptoms but in a very simplistic way it’s been explained to me...that fluid gathers and builds up pressing against the optic nerve. If left untreated you go blind. It’s been nicknamed “The Sneaky Thief of Vision.”

Because the loss of vision happens gradually over a long period of time...because the pressure builds up slowly you might only recognize it when it’s quite advanced...worldwide it is the second leading cause of blindness.

My mom has to put drops in her eyes every morning and every evening so the pressure doesn’t build up.

I would share with you this morning that Proverbs 29:18 is a warning about spiritual glaucoma. I grew up where the KJV tells us “Where there is no vision the people perish.” The NIV translates it “Where there is no revelation people cast off restraint.”

The Message version says “If people can’t see what God is doing they stumble all over themselves.”

My simple definition is “If we lose sight of God’s purpose we’re spiritually blind.”

Without being too simplistic the Church exists to make disciples...we are to lead lost people into a saving relationship with Jesus...and we are to teach those who are saved how to be mature followers of Jesus. Go and grow.

Does anyone here disagree with that? Reach the lost, Disciple the saved...The Mission of Jesus’ church...and that mission never changes.

So if we can clearly see that this is what we are to be living our lives to accomplish...what clouds this vision in our lives? What pressures begin to build up so that many Christians begin to suffer from spiritual glaucoma?

I believe that Satan is “The Sneaky Thief” of spiritual vision. The Apostle Paul says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the gospel.” (2 Cor. 4:4)

Unbelievers are lost...living life in the darkness because of the Evil One. Stumbling through life a day at a time...but the real answers for hope and purpose are just beyond the top of their red tipped cane.

But God has provided an answer to Satan’s blinding schemes.

I. HIS PEOPLE SHINING IN THE DARKNESS

2 Cor. 4:4 finishes by saying “The light of the gospel displays the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”

How can people lost in the darkness experience the gospel light that penetrates the soul? Listen:

2 CORINTHIANS 4:5-6 (p. 804)

God’s answer for the spiritual darkness of a lost world is me and you...His answer is that those who have made Jesus Lord, the Church, become servants who reflect the Light of Christ...we show this world the Face of Christ.

1. The light doesn’t shine if we preach ourselves.

Paul says, “We don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord.”

Selfishness and self focus can become some of the greatest reasons we start losing our vision.

[In 37 years of ministry I’ve never been with a group of Church people where someone wanted to argue about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. I’ve never had a ministry leader of staff person say “Heaven and Hell don’t matter.” I’ve never had a young believer say, “Old people aren’t important” or an older person say, “Young families don’t matter for our future.”

But in almost 4 decades I’ve experienced intense arguments over music styles, parking lots, color schemes and time changes for service. And instead of asking...what helps us accomplish our never changing mission better...selfishness and preference blind our vision...and while Satan gets us to fight about the color of the carpet lost people go to Hell and instead of preaching Christ, and growing in Him we draw up sides and criticize those who don’t see how important this is...Satan loves to blind unbelievers to the gospel but he also loves to cause believers to lose sight of what really matters too.]

You see anytime something becomes “ours” it stops being “His.”

And the light doesn’t shine.

2. If we become a bunch of flashlights in a well lit room.

God said, “Let light shine out of darkness.”

Do you know when He said that? It was during creation in Genesis 1:3. The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of god was hovering over the waters...And God said,

“Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:4)

Light penetrates darkness...light reveals what is good...light is more powerful than darkness.

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