This is post #17 of a 26-session blog series entitled Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. It was Eugene Peterson who said that Philippians is Paul’s happiest letter. Join us as we explore this joyful work of Christ as it manifest itself amongst Paul and Timothy, and the early church of Christ-followers in Philippi. Just maybe, we might learn a few secrets to finding true joy in the midst of our lives as well. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Philippians 3: 12-16 (MsgB)
Have you ever noticed how often Jesus, in the Gospel writings, offers this curious and conditional introductory statement prior to many of His most well-known teachings?
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear…
Most biblical scholars believe that Jesus’ use of this phrase was more than just a practical way for the Master to get people’s attention. In truth, Jesus, as God’s Messiah, when He was pointing out people’s willingness (or unwillingness) to stop, look, and listen was fulfilling yet another set of Old Testament prophecies that warn us about the on-going rebelliousness and dullness of God’s people.
Let me give you just three places in the Old Testament where this eyes and ears theme is mentioned…
Ezekiel 12:2 (NKJV)
Son of Man, You dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.
Jeremiah 5:21 (NKJV)
Hear this now, O foolish people without understanding. (Those) who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not.
Isaiah 6:10 (NKJV)
The heart of this people (will be made) dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”
Apparently, from God’s perspective, one of the biggest obstacles keeping you and me from being totally free in Christ is our own self-consumption, our rebelliousness and, quite honestly, our dullness of spirit.
Maybe that’s why Paul, here in today’s Lectio Divina, talks so clearly about becoming singularly focused on the exclusive goal of embracing Christ.
After thirty-plus years of pastoring God’s people, I must readily admit that we Americans just might be one of most easily distracted people to ever live on the planet.
Maybe it’s our materialism and consumerism?
Maybe it’s our lack of discipline?
Or, maybe it’s our….um….(squirrel).
Yep. It happens.
Our eyes get pulled away. Our ears begin to tune out. Our attention becomes distracted. And in a matter of moments, you and I are there in body only, but our mind and spirit are millions of miles away.
Let’s see. What was I talking about here?
We were talking about Paul and his onward and upward journey toward embracing Christ…
And, Jesus and His stern warnings about our eyes and ears becoming so easily distracted.
As I see it, (sorry, no pun intended) maybe you and I need to pay a bit more attention to Paul’s words and Jesus’ warnings and lean in a bit more right now to the Holy Spirit. Because, in all honesty, if I’m left to my own human devices, my eyes and ears are destined to be severely challenged in this society where dullness, rebelliousness, and hardened hearts lead the way.
I think it’s time to pray…
Today’s Prayer: Father God, I readily confess my human condition of poor eyesight, dull hearing, and a distracted heart. I see why Paul spoke about this problem, and Jesus warned us about such things. Yet, rather than blame my society for my dullness, I own up to the fact that it’s my self-centeredness, my rebelliousness, and my lack of focus that keeps my eyes from seeing and my ears from hearing. Holy Spirit, I need Your indwelling and empowering presence to keep me on track. For Your Name’s sake and for Your Glory. Amen.
Today’s Questions to Ponder: So, what’s my singular goal today? Is it to become closer to Jesus of Nazareth or is it some lesser goal? What distractions are calling my name? Are my eyes focused on Christ? Are my ears turned toward Him? And finally, am I leaning in to the indwelling and empowering work of the Holy Spirit who can enable me to keep my focus on Jesus alone?
So, how are you experiencing Jesus as we ponder together on this journey into the Book of Philippians?
Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 26 blogs. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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