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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    More sermon texts from Swift Presbyterian Church:

    Jan. 12, 2020 | Baptism of the Lord Sunday

    Spiritually Farsighted
    Matthew 7:1–5

    Second sermon in the 2020 Vision series

     2 020 VISION. We’re looking at that word play this year. Perfect eyesight 20/20 in the year 2020.

    Last week was spiritual blindness. Today is farsightedness. Someone who is “farsighted” is able to clearly focus on things that are far but has difficulty seeing objects that are near. It’s not physical eyesight we’re addressing, but rather, our spiritual vision.

    Two things about being farsighted:

    BEING FARSIGHTED is a good thing. You are able to see for a great distance. Moses was farsighted. He could see beyond the slavery and desert wanderings to the promised land. The prophets of the Old Testament were farsighted. They had the God-directed ability to announce what will happen or be needed in the future. John the Elder in Revelation could see a new heaven and a new earth.

    There are visionaries in the church now. People who predict the future of the church. There are folks who dream of a day when people of all races and religions will live together in peace.

    There are people who strategize and clearly lay out a three-year or five-year plan for their company or for the church. They see clearly where God is leading. There is a great advantage to have farsighted vision for planning and ministry preparation.

    There are some things that we already see about tomorrow and the next day. Something we see and know and can hang on to. About our future. About God. About our future with God. God is with us today and tomorrow. Nothing can separate us from God’s love for us through Jesus Christ.

    God is our help in ages past and our hope for years to come. We grow in grace, and live in love. We know our future is bright when we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Those are things of the future that we can see now.

    A story about Michelangelo. I don’t think it’s true, but it might help us understand how this vision might work on in our lives. Someone asked the great painter and sculptor how he was able to create such masterful statues. He answered, “I am not sure how it works exactly — but I’m able to see the vision of the beautiful statue in the marble before I even start. Then I just chip away what does not belong.”

    As we chip away at what does not belong, God opens our eyes and let us become more farsighted and to live into God’s future.

    WHICH BRINGS US to the negative of being farsighted. Farsighted means you can see what’s far from you, but you’ve got a problem seeing what’s right in front of you. You can see to read a road sign but not a book. We can’t see to chip away what doesn’t belong. It’s a problem many people have — when it comes to seeing the flaws and the failures that are right in front of them. We can’t see in ourselves what needs to be chipped away.

    Jesus talked about this spiritual farsightedness in our scripture for today. Jesus hits hard at a tendency we all have — to see very clearly the mistakes and the faults far away — in others, and to miss the mistakes and faults that are right in front of us — in ourselves.

    We’re good at seeing flaws in the person we’re married to, in our children, in our parents — while having blurred vision about the things we’re doing wrong. We’re quick to jump on the failings of a friend, or a coworker, or a supervisor, or a spiritual leader, and totally ignore our own failings.

    When we’re quick to point out where the people are messing up, they feel judged, diminished, put down when they’re around you.

    † † †

    THERE ARE LOTS OF REASONS we’re hard on other people. Sometimes, it’s because we like to feel superior. Other times, it’s because we feel inferior and we’re trying to feel better at their expense. This “attacking the speck and missing the plank” thing can be because we tend to look for someone to blame, because we want to excuse our failings by pointing out theirs.

    Whatever our reasons, Jesus doesn’t like it. He calls us to self-examination, to see ourselves up close. And in seeing we make corrections to our lives, our thoughts, our actions, our attitudes toward others.

    If you’re spiritually farsighted, you tend to see other people’s faults, not your own.

    † † †

    IT MAY BE that you can think of someone who’s felt the hurt or the condemnation, or the belittling of your criticism. You know, you could both experience some wonderful healing if you would tell them you’re sorry and ask for their forgiveness. Can you see far down the road the two of you walking together, once again sharing life, being at peace?

    When we can see clearly ourselves and chisel away the plank, then we more clearly make out our future as the people God already sees that we can be.

    May God open our eyes to see.

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «Jesus calls us to self-examination, to see ourselves up close. And in seeing we make corrections to our lives, our thoughts, our actions, our attitudes toward others.»

    SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:


    John 9:13–41
    Holy Bible, New International Version


    The Pharisees investigate the healing
    13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

    16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

    But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

    17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

    The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

    18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

    20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

    24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

    25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

    26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

    27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

    28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

    30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

    34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

    Spiritual blindness
    35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

    36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

    37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

    38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

    39 Jesus said,[a“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

    40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind, too?”

    41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


    Footnotes:

    a.  John 9:39  Some early manuscripts do not have Then the man said … 39 Jesus said.


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    23208 Swift Church Road
    Foley, AL 36535
    Phone: (251) 943-8367
    email: swiftpc@gulftel.com