As I sat in the chair in the examination room of the ophthalmologist’s office, I received a diagnosis that made official what I already knew – “You have a cataract, and it needs to be removed.”
In the past year, it’s become more and more “clear” that there was a fog-like substance, or “glaze,” growing on the lens of my eye. Trying to see out of that eye was like looking through a fogged-up window that I couldn’t wipe off. I couldn’t focus on anything when I looked out of that eye – nothing was clear.
It wasn’t long after that I realized cataracts have a spiritual application, too. After he recounted the “Hall of Faith” in chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews exhorts Christians, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2). We can only fix our eyes on Jesus if we have clear vision, and not cloudy vision. If we can’t “see” Jesus, and keep our focus on Him, we won’t be able to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” or “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
We can develop spiritual cataracts in quite a few ways, but ultimately they come from the same source – neglect of the spiritual disciplines God has given us that we might grow and mature in Him. When we stop reading and studying God’s Word; when the only time we pray is to get a good parking spot; when we neglect fellowship and attendance at church; when we don’t truly worship from the heart; when we aren’t good stewards of the gifts God gives us; when we don’t evangelize; when we stop serving and ministering to others; when we see obedience to the Lord as an option and not an obligation; and when we stop learning, we can be sure cataracts will develop that will cloud our vision of the author and perfecter of faith, Jesus Christ. They may come quickly or slowly, but the cataracts will certainly develop.
Cataracts, at least of the spiritual nature, can be avoided, therefore, by the regular and consistent practice of all of the spiritual disciplines. Only then will we be able to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus with vision that is clear and bright.
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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on principles of prayer taught to us by Jesus in John 17, Matthew 6:9-13, and Luke 18:1-8. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus taught that we should pray for ourselves, other believers, and our churches, in a continuous and committed way.
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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 17:20-26. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The Lord Jesus prays for unity, presence with Him in heaven, and faithfulness to His mission for His church.
Posted in contemporary evangelicalism, evangelism, faithfulness, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, love of God, preaching, Sermons | Leave a Comment »
“I do not ask You to take then=m out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
J.C. Ryle wrote:
We need not doubt that our Lord’s all-seeing eye detected in the hearts of His disciples an impatient desire to get away from this troubled world. Few in number and weak in strength, surrounded on every side by enemies and persecutors, they might well long to be released from the scene of conflict, and go home. Even David had said in a certain place, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove, then would I flee away and be at rest!” (Psalm 55:6). Seeing all this, our Lord has wisely placed on record this part of His prayer for the perpetual benefit of His Church. He has taught us a great lesson that He thinks it better for His people to remain in the world and be kept from its evil, than to be taken out of the world and removed from the presence of evil altogether.
Nor is it difficult on reflection to see the wisdom of our Lord’s mind about His people, in this as in everything else. Pleasant as it may be to flesh and blood to be snatched away from conflict and temptation, we may easily see that it would not be profitable. How could they do any good in the world, if taken away from it immediately after conversion? How could they be duly trained for heaven, and taught to value the blood and intercession and patience of their Redeemer, unless they purchased their experience by suffering? Questions like these admit of only one kind of answer. To abide here in this valley of tears, tried, tempted, assaulted, and yet kept from falling into sin, is the surest plan to promote the sanctification of Christians, and to glorify Christ. To go to heaven at once, in the day of conversion, would doubtless be an easy course, and would save us much trouble. But the easiest course is not always the path of duty. He that would win the crown must carry the cross, and show himself light in the midst of darkness, and salt in the midst of corruption. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12).
If we have any hope that we are Christ’s true disciples, let us be satisfied that Christ knows better than we do what is for our good. Let us leave “our times in His hand,” and be content to abide here patiently as long as He pleases, however hard our position, so long as He keeps us from evil.
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I had the privilege of preaching on John 17:17-19 this morning. The following is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by His Word – which is the truth -and sent into the world with a mission, just as He was.
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Sinclair Ferguson said, “If someone put us in a room with no distractions and said, ‘I just want you to sit there and think about the Lord Jesus for 5 minutes’…many evangelicals in the Western world would find that an enormous trial. Because we don’t know 5 minutes worth of the Lord Jesus.” Sadly, I think he’s right.
One of the best podcasts I can recommend is The Briefing with Al Mohler. Around 20 minutes of commentary on current events from a biblical worldview. You can find it at http://www.almohler.com…”A room without books is like a body without a soul” (G.K. Chesterton).
There should be a sympathy card that has the following words on the outside: “I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t know what to say.” On the inside it should be blank (Job 2:13). That would be infinitely better than the sentimental pablum which fills most cards…”Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15).
No one who supports same-sex marriage has an answer to why marriage should be limited to gender alone. For example, why should the number of people matter if gender doesn’t? There’s no reason it should if their own logic is considered: the only thing that matters is who you love. So why should it be limited to age? Or species? Or within a biological family? According to the “Love Wins” logic, there shouldn’t any limitation. The secular left won’t have any way to stop any of these – in particular, Muslims who support polygamy.
Cheers to Robert Zimmer, who is President of the University of Chicago! He sent a letter to incoming freshmen announcing that no “safe spaces” are to be found on campus. “Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn without the fear of censorship. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort,” he wrote. Well done, President Zimmer!
Congratulations to the Hillsboro Hops for making the Northwest League playoffs for the third year in a row! The back-to-back champs are threatening a three-peat…The God Who is There, written by Francis Schaeffer in the late 1960’s, continues to be relevant and prophetic…RIP Gene Wilder. Willy Wonka is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Blazing Saddles is close…Take heart, the Lord Jesus Christ is conquering and putting all enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:20-28)!
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