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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 15)

With these verses our study of this most extensively described miracle in all of the Bible comes to a close. The man born blind has been healed. He has been tossed out of the synagogue. He has been insulted and excommunicated. All that remains is a proverbial “moral of the story.”

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

Jesus’ Mission: There are several places where Jesus declares why He came. For example, in John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In John 12:47 Jesus says, ““If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” However, here at the end of this great miracle, Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (v. 39).

His coming, according to this text, involves two purposes: (1) “so that the blind will see” (which has happened in two ways to the man born blind), and (2) so that “those who see will become blind.” The blindness of the religious leaders of Israel could not have been made plainer than here in the story of this healing.

An Outraged Question: Some of the Pharisees heard Jesus say this and they respond, “What? Are we blind too?” (v. 40). The Greek reads: 40 ἤκουσαν ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων ταῦτα οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ὄντες, καὶ εἶπον αὐτῷ· Μὴ καὶ ἡμεῖς τυφλοί ἐσμεν; Literally, this sentence is translated as: “The ones from the Pharisees who were being with him (presumably Jesus) heard these things, and said to him: ‘Surely we also ourselves are not blind men, are we?”

The way they word their question contains that negative we touched on before in one of our posts. What they are really asking is this: “Surely we are not blind too, are we?” Their question is one of outrage, thinking that Jesus is somehow lumping them in with the man who, in their opinion, was “steeped in sin at birth.” Their question, in the way it was worded, expected a negative answer. They expected Jesus to respond with something like, “No! Not at all. I’m certainly not implying that you Pharisees are blind!”

It is interesting that their question implies that the man born blind is still blind! They refuse to acknowledge that he has been healed.

Jesus’ Authoritative Conclusion: The last statement in this miracle story is Jesus’ response to these Pharisees. He says, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (v. 41). So this miracle account is about much more than a man born blind receiving his physical sight. This story is about sin and guilt and claiming to see and actually being blind.

I believe what Jesus is saying to these religious leaders is quite stark and direct: “If you were blind — and you’re not! — you would have an excuse for your refusal to believe in me. The fact is, you claim you can see, but you don’t see your own guilt which is right in front of you!”

By the way, this miracle is referred to once more in the gospel of John. In the very next chapter the Jews accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed and some respond, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (Jn. 10)

Today’s Challenge: Would you say that your spiritual blindness has been healed by the Lord Jesus? If so, will you pray that God would lead you and me to more clearly FOCUS on Him and what He wants to do in and through us?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 14)

Being kicked out of the synagogue was about the worst thing that could befall a Jewish person. And these religious leaders threw the man born blind out! Being excluded from the center of religious life meant, to many, that one was under the judgment of God. What the man born blind’s parents feared has happened to him.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

Sought Out by the Savior: We read that Jesus heard that the man born blind had been thrown out of the synagogue. And He seeks him out. Jesus doesn’t say to the man, “I’m really sorry for the third degree you had to endure!” Or “How’s it going with your vision?” No. Jesus goes directly to the most important point of all: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (v. 35).

The expression “the Son of Man” was a Messianic title. “Any Bible reader will instinctively recognize that all this takes its place in the larger sweep of Messianic expectation that finds its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, the uniquely qualified divine-human king. And in fact Jesus himself confirms this for us, explicitly associating himself with Daniel’s “son of man” (Matt. 26:63–64). This is in fact his favorite self-designation, recurring some eighty times in the Gospels, and becomes on his lips a Messianic title. Jesus is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man.” (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/jesus-christ-son-man/).

A Direct Claim of Messiahship: The man born blind asks who the Son of Man is so that he can believe in him. Jesus declares, using third person language, “You have now seen him; he is the one speaking with you.” I’ll bet the word “seen” meant a lot to this man who had been born blind! Jesus is saying, “He is standing right in front of you — and you can see Him!”

A Logical Response: We read that the man said, “‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” (v. 38) Worship is the natural response of personal faith in Jesus. While the religious leaders of Israel rejected Jesus, this man, this one “steeped in sin at birth,” worshiped Him!

Today’s Challenge: Are you worshiping Jesus as the promised Messiah? Faith is not mere intellectual assent. Faith shows itself by worship. How might you express your worship of the Lord Jesus today?

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2021 in focus

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #29 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 1

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.

I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s begin our multipart study with verses 1-2.

As we go through these 24 imperatives, you will notice that I’m including some of my notes & observations in the passage. I’m all for actively reading Scripture, marking up your Bible, bolding and highlighting and underlining what you notice.

The first critical imperative that I see is —

1. The believer is to OFFER HIS BODY AS A LIVING SACRIFICE! (v. 1).

Now, I know very little about the whole sacrificial system. I’m glad I don’t live in a culture where the blood of goats and lambs and pigeons was required to make atonement for the people.  But the Apostle Paul uses this imagery for a Gentile audience!

God cares about our bodies — and He wants them — as living sacrifices! Notice that this sacrifice is to God “holy and pleasing.” God cares so much about our offering our bodies to Him that He calls such an act “your true and proper worship”!

May I ask you, dear friend, have you done that? Are you doing that?  Are you and I daily offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices? Someone has said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps jumping off the altar! Done any jumping lately?

Today’s challenge: Personally and privately give your physical being to the Lord, asking Him to use you today as a true and proper act of worship before a watching world.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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A Great Praise Song! Please take the time to watch this!

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2020 in praise

 

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One More Quote from Pastor John Piper: God’s Greatness

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in God's greatness

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — He Is Fully Divine!

We are suggesting that some Christians overemphasize the Holy Spirit, and also that many of us overlook Him. As the so-called “Shy Member of the Trinity,” the Holy Spirit is personal and deserves to be treated as a Person!

In our previous post, we suggested that because the Holy Spirit is personal, He can be prayed to. A major part of my thesis in these posts is that we can have a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit which includes praying to Him. I don’t believe the Bible forbids the believer from directing his or her prayers to the respective member of the Godhead who is most intimately connected to a certain ministry.

Today’s thought is that because the Holy Spirit is fully God, we can worship Him! We don’t worship Him in place of the Lord Jesus, of course. But if He is God, He can and should be worshiped!

The deity of God the Holy Spirit can be shown from the Scriptures in several ways. He possesses the “attributes” (characteristics) of deity in His omnipresence (see Psalm 139), His omniscience (see Romans 8:26-27 and I Corinthians 2), and His omnipotence (see Genesis 1; Acts 1:8; Romans 15).

However the narrative of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 shows the deity of the Holy Spirit. As a couple they wanted to give some money to the apostles, but lied to the Holy Spirit and the church in doing so. Peter makes it clear to Ananias that they had lied to God the Holy Spirit and Ananias is struck dead for his deception! His wife Sapphira comes in later and is given the opportunity to tell the truth, but she lies as well and is put to death by the Lord! “You have not lied to men, but to God,” Peter says. This he says just after he has said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” Conclusion: They lied to God the Holy Spirit. And the Trinity would not tolerate such a serious sin at the beginning of the church.

[An Explanatory Note: When we use the expression “The Forgotten Third” we are not suggesting that the Holy Spirit if 1/3 God. No, that would be heresy. He is fully God, just as are the Father and the Son. The term “Third” is referring to His Person in the Godhead, not His divinity.]

A Challenge: IF the Holy Spirit is fully divine, we may worship Him. Write out a prayer of worship to God the Holy Spirit this morning, thanking Him for one of His ministries to you today.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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Cadillac commercial — Listen to the Lyrics! (your comments?)

CLICK HERE: WORSHIP ME!

Hands to the sky, show me that you’re mine
Hands to the sky, show me that you’re mine
And baby, worship me
Worship me
On your knees
Patiently, quietly, faithfully, worship me

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2018 in idolatry

 

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Some Quotes from John Piper’s Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

This was an encouraging book to read.  Short.  Passionate.  Devotional in a good sense.  Need your love for the Lord stirred up?  Want to grow in your appreciation of the Person of the Lord Jesus?  Then this book is for you!   Here are a couple of quotes that jumped out at me:

We need “the eyes of [our] hearts” (Eph. 1:18) opened to see the Lord!

“We are all starved for the glory of God, not self.  No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem.” (15).

A prayer:  “Wean us from our obsession with trivial things.” (17).

A prayer:  “Remove the lopsided and distorted images of your Son that weaken our worship and lame our obedience. . . . So deliver us from small dreams and timid ventures and halting plans.” (33).

Some of you know that I have been working on my next book, Unlike Jesus, which is a study of becoming a friend of sinners (from Mt. 11).  Piper comments on this text:  “Truth came dressed in camel skins and eating locusts and living in the wilderness and calling kings adulterers and doing no miracles and dying for a dancing girl.  And this was not acceptable.  So truth came sociably and went to feasts and made fine wine and let a harlot wash his feet.  But this too was not acceptable.” (61).

A prayer:  “Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements.  Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst, Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity. . . . We fear our bent to trifling.” (72).

“It follows, starkly, that horrific calamities in this world, no matter how painful, are not the greatest tragedy.  Far greater is the failure to escape hell through repentance and faith.” (97).

“Break our addiction to this world.” (116).

“. . . the Spirit persuades ‘by and with the Scriptures.’  He does not skirt the Scriptures and substitute private revelations about the Scriptures.” (121).

“Christ is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” (122)

 

 

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Some of My Favorite Quotes: J.I. Packer on the Worship of God!

“If it is right for man to have the glory of God as his goal, can it be wrong for God to aim at the same goal? If man can have no higher end and motive than God’s glory, how can God? And if it is wrong for man to seek a lesser end than this, then it would be wrong for God too. The reason why it cannot be right for man to live for himself, as if he were God, is simply the fact that he is not God; and the reason why it cannot be wrong for God to seek His own glory is simply the fact that He is God. Those who would not have God seek His glory in all things are really asking that He should cease to be God. And there is no greater blasphemy than to will God out of existence.” (J.I. Packer in The Plan of God found at http://www.the-highway.com/plan_Packer.html)

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in God's glory

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #4- The Saints!) (con’t)

The SAINTS can sometimes bog down the believer in Jesus!  It’s true!  Jesus-followers can get discouraged, distracted, or demoralized by fellow believers in Jesus!

These ten topics (which we are preaching at Crossroads Fellowship Church; website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com) might help us come to grips with the issues that often slow down our sanctification process.  By “saints” the Bible means every believer (not some special category of Christian determined by church authorities).

The text we have chosen to focus our attention on the saints is Acts 2:42 which reads:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

We’ve noticed the devotion of these first-century believers.  Now let’s see what unified them.  They were thoroughly committed to four specific areas of truth:  THE APOSTLES’ TEACHING, THE FELLOWSHIP, THE BREAKING OF BREAD, AND THE PRAYERS.  Each of those four areas uses the definite article in Greek.  That’s why I used the word “the” before each one.

These early believers cared about DOCTRINE, TOGETHERNESS, WORSHIP, AND COMMUNICATING WITH THE LORD!  If we focused on these for priorities in the local church, don’t you agree that many of our conflicts, squabbles, and spats would vanish?

On the issue of DOCTRINE, what truths about God and the things of God ought to unite believers in Jesus? (I can think of dozens).

On the issue of TOGETHERNESS, what specific steps do we take to spend time with one another?

On the issue of WORSHIP, do we strive to unite our hearts as we praise the Lord together?

On the issue of PRAYER, how might we become much more serious in lifting up one another’s needs?

If fellow-Christians have got you down, my friend, forgive them, pray for them, and take specific steps to concentrate on the four priorities that ought to unite all Jesus-followers!

 

 


 
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Posted by on September 22, 2017 in christian growth

 

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