The importance of clear vision

Where there is no vision, the people perish. They stumble all over themselves as they can't see what God is doing. What is your vision? Is Jesus in it? Stephen brings a word of encouragement to help us develop our spiritual eyesight and rethink our vision around God.

Stephen Schoolings


Transcript (Auto-generated)

Thank you Dylan and the team. Good morning to you all it's a pleasure for me to be up here and to be able to look out on all your smiling faces may the Lord bless us all this morning and may I follow on from what Dave said earlier and wish you a happy New Year uh where we used to live you were not really allowed to do that you were supposed to not say happy New Year until after midnight had struck but seeing as I won't be around at midnight um I thought I'd get in there and and I thought well if David said Happy New Year then I can say Happy New Year too because indeed we've we've come to the end of another year and come to another pivot pivotal moment for all of us as we normally traditionally yes we certainly look back with gratitude for what God has done to us but you see you you you can't walk forwards looking backwards can you so you've got to take a quick look back and and then turn around and look for forwards again and we're here now to look out into this new year a new year for all of us and uh very significantly a new season for us in the life of our church here so it is an important time an important time to hear what God wants to say to us and if there are any young people here this morning I'd like to make a particular appeal to you you graduates of grade six and grade 12 because what I'm going to share this morning is something that's very simple but it's very profound now I think it's a terrific privilege and a terrific blessing for those of us who are born in Christian families or grew up in the in the church as we who are here today have done probably and let's not um scorn that that privilege there are many good things we're learning there are good foundations that are being built into our lives as young people but I must confess cuz I was one of those people and I'm glad for that but there are some things I did not learn in in church when I was young and certainly not in Sunday school there are things I had to learn in the the School of Hard Knock as we say as an adult over many years with with many repeat performances because I didn't understand and I didn't learn the lesson the first time r so I'd invite you to listen to what I'm going to try and explain this morning because I I I have discovered this to be a very simple but very profane principle that has helped me greatly in my life once I managed to learn it which as I just explained took quite a while it would have been really good to have learned this when I was young and for those of us who have in ourselves learned this principle may it be an encouragement to us to continue and a motivation to keep going forward with the Lord so here we are then let's look at what the Lord wants to say to us this morning and our text is there in front of you very brief Proverbs 29 Verse 18 for the moment I've given you there the King James version because it's one that many of us have are familiar with and possibly we've even memorized where there is no vision the people per is Proverbs 29: 18 and you can see there are just three parts three important parts to this verse let's start with the one in the middle people here it's not any specific group of people at all it's people in the very general sense of the word so that means it's everybody that means it concerns us all however old or young we may be however far along the road of life we may be or whether we're at the beginning so it's for all so let's listen up to see what God has to say to us and then at the bottom for you the word perish it's actually a good English word but it's not one that we use very often uh it seems a bit oldfashioned and also because it's not a very pleasant word so we don't like to use it I'm sure but does anybody know what it means I hope you know what it means maybe not perish it means to die but it's a specific kind of dying you can look it up in the dictionary and you'll find it's right there it says parish is to waste away or to deay to Decay to the point of death so in other words it means you're you're dead on your feet it means you're alive but you're dying it means you're you're still going along but you're already a goner your Epitaph has been written for you perish is really the most Dreadful way of dying most of us I think when we think of dying we hope is quick and easy right but perishing is a long slow painful process so that's what it's talking about on the negative side the end there and then at the beginning there's the word Vision vision of course has to do with seeing and thank you Dylan for choosing that song to set the tone I want to see you we're going to talk about seeing this morning vision and let's make it clear this is not talking about physical seeing not with our natural eyes it's if you look at the context look at the verse it's obvious that it's we're not talking about blind people here people are not perishing because they're physically blind all right you realize that okay blindness doesn't make you die fortunately although it's a a handicap it's not a death sentence the vision we're talking about here is spiritual vision the importance of Clear Vision of clear spiritual vision so now let's look at this verse again in the in another translation the modern translation the message translation let's read it through again if people can't see all right there's the vision bit if people can't see what God is doing they stumble all over themselves that's what the message says in a more colloquial translation would be they will go down the tubes all right does that communicate we all know what that means if people can't see what God is doing they will go down the tubes but now there's a second part here in this in this translation I didn't give it to you earlier because frankly the uh I am a I was a Bible translator so I think I'm permitted to make comments like these uh the King James translators blessed the hearts they did a pretty good job for their era but on this last part of the verse they really did not do a very good job which is why we don't remember it we remember the first part but I'm sure most of us don't hav't got a clue what the second part is and we certainly don't maybe maybe don't even realize there is a second part but the point is in the Psalms and the Proverbs most of the time the the writers talked or wrote in in what we call doublets in pairs they would say say the same thing twice from different points of view so the part we've read it's sort of the negative side of things where there's no vision which is negative people will perish that's negative but in the second part he gives us the positive side which is much more encouraging so let me read it to you you can see it on the screen as well but when they attend that's the people when the people attend to what God reveals they are most blessed and can live life to the full now we can really compare those two parts and get the full picture there's a choice here and it's a choice that's often put to us in God's word in different places there's a choice between life and death and when God talks about life he's not just talking survival he's not talking just bare existence he's talking about life in abundance Abundant Life Life to the full where we can be Most Blessed that's the kind of Life he's thinking about he's talking about and he's offering us but there's the alternative if we don't choose life there's only one other alternative and that's death and that's not immediate death right now this minute bang we're gone it means perishing it means a slow steady decline and Decay until eventually we do die so this is his word to us this morning which I want to share with you as we look out into this new year so let's meditate it on a moment on it for a moment there's a secret here which we we we most of us I think sort of know but if I speak for myself I didn't get it clearly into Focus for many many years and it's so important we are all alive God has given us life and the key in life is that we have to decide we didn't decide to come and be born that was decided for us but once we were born once we were alive then our responsibility begins and our responsibility each one of us individually for ourselves is that I must decide for myself you must decide for yourself now it's true others do try and decide for us parents decide a lot for us when we're young but ultimately God has given us this free choice we must be we must decide and there are many small things things we decide about but the big thing the one big thing is this choice between life and death so then if that's the the the truth of the matter the big practical question is how do we do this how do we discern how do we see how do we make those choices that are going to stand Us in good stead whether we're young and just starting out as I mentioned earlier if you want to be successful in life and have have the get the best out of life this is what we need to learn or if we're some ways along the road we've still got some ways to go yet and we've still got choices to make so let's have a look at what we need to do what this verse teaches us and the very first point which is obvious is then that we need to develop our spiritual eyesight because what this verse is showing us is that there's a there's a connection between what we see our vision what we focus fix our eyes upon and what's going to happen to us in the short and the long term so how many of us already realize that we have spiritual eyes would you just sort of wave at me so I get an idea yeah quite a few how many of you know that we got spiritual eyesight and you know also that you intentionally use your spiritual eyes regularly wave at me again still a good number well that's good but also a good number that didn't so let's just back up then and talk about this a bit more and get it clear in our minds let's go right back to the beginning to Genesis in the beginning God in the beginning that's all there was there was God the world did not exist right we know the story of creation but remember God is Spirit he lives in what we call the spiritual world or in in heaven is the specific name of where he lives and then the creation story tells us that God made us in His image that is to say he made us like him now all these details are not explained specifically in the Bible we can understand these things and I remember hearing a person explaining this quite well and I'm going to say I'm going to copy some of the things that he said because it's stuck with me all these years so it's like if we can imagine that um God in heaven has his workshop and he creates Spirit beings because he's a spirit and let's just dwell on that for a moment because we don't realize it in the world that we live in with all the propaganda that beats down on us every day the spiritual world is prior and primary the spiritual world is more important than this physical world that we live in we're very taken up with and preoccupied by the physical world because our senses are bombarded every day but let's not forget God existed before this physical world which he made so the spirit world is prior and primary and we need to get things done in the spirit world first before we can get things done in the physical world that's how it was in creation and that's what we're going to be thinking about and learning today and so God creates those little Spirit beings called human beings up in his workshop and then he's also arranged it because he doesn't do all the work himself but he's arranged it created it such there are millions of factories all across the world that create what I'm going to call Earth suits because you see God has made Spirit beings for the spiritual world but he then created the physical world for us to live in which is a different kind of world and in this world we need to be physical beings as well and so he needs to make earth suits and these are made down here on Earth obviously because we're here on Earth you know just like when the astronauts uh walked on the moon or these so were told you know they had to wear special suits because the environment the atmosphere of the Moon is different to the atmosphere of of earth right you've all all seen pictures of that so it's the same to live in this physical world we need Earth suits to cope and live in this environment but the big difference between the earth suit and the spirit being is that the spirit being like God is eternal will live forever but the Earth suit will indeed in due course wear out and D but that's not the end of the world because it's the spirit being that lives on forever so that's why it is we have spiritual eyes as well as physical eyes we also have spiritual ears as well as physical ears and when we speak we're not only speaking uh physical vibrations into the air but we're we're speaking truth and hopefully truth and life we're speaking spiritual power as well so let's just do an experiment and see how good our spiritual eyes are have a good look at me you're seeing me now with your physical eyes right and you can see I put this shirt on especially this morning so you got something pretty to look look at you can see the screen behind me you can see Kim here and the lovely nativity scene that's still here all right can you all see that all right all right now I'm going to ask you to close your eyes all right would you do that for me close your eyes and now have a good look at the screen little screens you've got there behind your eyes now can you still see me can you still see me and what's behind me and around me who really can't see me at all see nothing not many Lord please remove the blockages help us to see that was our prayer Lord we want to see you so we need to be able to see but most of you seem to be saying to me that yes you can still see me all right may open your eyes now I hope I've sort of proved to you that we do have spiritual eyes because some people are not too sure about this concept when I when I talk about it but we do and the fact of the matter is that we talk about it all the time and we actually use them all the time and it's so automatic that we've become unaware of it for many of us so let me just talk to you a bit more about this I mentioned earlier I was a transl Bible translator in an earlier life and words have always been my thing of I've always loved books and always loved words and one of the things I've learned about words is or or languages is that in in any language if a language has a lot of words for the same subject the same thing that demonstrate that this is something important for the people who speak that language because they want to talk about it a lot so a proof is Right nowadays this wasn't true when I was young we've got hundreds of words to do with computers and uh information and media and internet and stuff like that right a lot of those words didn't even exist 50 years ago we have hundreds of them now and so it is actually for seeing I've always already used some seeing is is the word a word vision is in another word okay we've got others like looking staring Etc all right and now what about spiritual seeing do we have a word for that because I've kind of like made up a a Biblical kind of word by putting those two two words together but if we look in our dictionaries yes the fact of the matter is we have a word in our dictionary in English for Spiritual eyesight and that word is a word you all know it's not some strange theological word it's an everyday ordinary word and that word is Imagination did you know that or does that surprise you I will just put a little parenthesis here I used to have a really good imagination when I was young and read lots of books but unfortunately through some negative teaching I got I was given to understand my imagination was bad because it's true with your imagination you can you can think about see thing bad things but the point of the the fact of the matter is we have an imagination and we use it all the time and it's our choice remember I said about making choices just now it's our choice as to whether we use it for good things or bad things but if you look look up the word imagination in your in your dictionary when you go home you'll see that it says something like this it says the ability to see things that are not visible all right did you hear that imagination is the ability to see things that are not visible well how is it we can see things that are not visible we're obviously not using our physical eyes to see things that are not visible right you get it but if we can see things that are not visible it must can only be explained that it's our spirit that is in us that is seeing things through our spiritual eyes and that's what we call imagination and there are many other words like that so we can say for example we can see things in our Mind's Eye it's another way of saying it see we've got lots of words in English about this another one is the word envisage it also means seeing in and en Visage and that's the word for the for those of us who are planners when you plan something you look ahead to something that you can't yet see physically but you can you can see it because you plan it so you ladies who if you're planning a special meal it's not yet there on the table it's not yet there it's not yet cooked but you see it in your mind's eye and you plan about how you're going to go to woolies and buy the ingredients and how you're going to cook it and how you're going to prepare it and how you're going to serve it all that you can see in your imagination or if you're planning a trip many of us might be going on trips now in this coming season if you know where you're going you can see in your mind's eye which route you're going to take there may be more than one route so you have to choose which one you're going to take depending on the situation you can see it you plan it and if you haven't been there before you can see it on a map a map is not the real place you haven't got there yet but the map is a picture picture which helps you to envisage to see something which is not yet visible so you can see then that we use our imagination we use our Mind's Eye we use our spiritual eyes all the time and now if we turn back to scripture again the Bible of course particularly talks a lot about spiritual eyes and spiritual seeing and that we have a word for that too which you may or may not make the connection but the word the Bible uses for this is the word faith all right do you see it there's another one you know when you're in a conversation with somebody and they're explaining something to you you've probably done it you've heard other people do it you nod your head and you go I see I see have you done that have you said that yeah I'm sure but you don't see anything they're just talking to you all you're hearing is Words which are not visible so what does it mean when you say I see it means that their spirit being has communicated to your spirit being you're beginning to get inside their head to see what they can see and you go yeah yeah I see I get it all right we're doing it all the time so let me do let's do another little uh practice shall we of of using our spiritual eyes I'm going to read you another story now from scripture from the Bible all right but instead of asking you to open your Bibles and follow with me I'm going to ask you to shut your eyes please don't go to sleep it's not time yet uh shut your eyes and just listen and this time it's going to come in through your your ear gate through your spiritual ears but automatically I think for pretty much all of us automatically it will begin to project images into your mind now we can see things in different ways as I said I'm a words person I see words I'm really good with words I can also see pictures but I'm not so good at that I said for many years I damped down my imagination which was a real pity but others of us can see pictures quite easily those of us who are creative are artists Among Us and all I feel sure they see pictures in in their minds quite easily but all of us can do it so I want you just to think about the the words you hear but think about what you're seeing what you're imagining as I read this story so this story is about Abraham so right there I'm giving you a start I'm just giving you the person I'm going to talk about and already right now you can probably start thinking well Abraham he was a man yeah I can imagine a man he was a man he lived in another place a long time ago he probably wore long robes and had a long beard right can you see him I think you probably can and you know some of his story how he traveled on a journey he probably had camels do we have any camels up here here to help us I don't see one never mind oh they're over there oh yes we do we've even got some visual AES how about that and he had people with him all right so I invite you then shut your eyes and listen and see what you can see by an Act of Faith Abraham said yes he said yes to God's call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home when he left he had no idea where he was going keep your eyes shut I'm just going to make a little commentary now this was really hard how could Abraham foresee where he was going if he'd never been there it was pretty difficult had no maps in those days had no pictures to help him in those days what God was asking him to do was pretty difficult so how did he do it well let's keep reading listen he did it by keeping his eyes on an unseen City with real Eternal foundations the city which is designed and built by God okay still keep your eyes shut a bit longer question and a comment on this how could he see this city which he'd never seen well I think the answer is that God must have told him must have explain to him a lot more than what we know from the story all right and so God Abraham listened to what God said he agreed with it he said yes and from that vage point he could see it okay feel free to open your eyes again there if you wish do you get the picture of what we're talking about here this is Hebrews 11 which is talking about faith faith the Biblical word for seeing and the story starts out by an Act of Faith you see Abraham like all of us he had to decide he had to choose what did he have to choose to do well first of all he had to have an encounter with God we can't go anywhere without having that first encounter and then having had our encounter with God and got to know him we need to listen to him because he is a God who speaks from the day one of creation we know the God we serve is a God who speaks and as Abraham listened to to what God was saying he decided to have confidence he decided that it was true he decided that it was trustworthy and that it was good and it was worth taking the risk and so he obeyed and he acted and he got ready and he got his family ready and they set it on this journey not knowing where they were going but what Hebrews tells us the extra piece of information is that nonetheless Abraham managed to do all that and he kept going because we know the whole thing took a very very long time didn't it with lots of tests and difficulties in the meantime Hebrews tells us that he kept going because in his spiritual Mind's Eye he could see what God had promised and we go beyond the land we think of the land of Israel because we told that he walked the length and the breadth of it when he got there so that he then saw it physically but it doesn't even talk about that here he's talking about a city because in that land the land on its own wasn't going to be much good the land was for people and people needed cities and apparently God has said to him about cities and so Abraham could see the city and in the whole of his lifetime on Earth in his Earth suit he didn't actually see this city which we now call the New Jerusalem because we know a lot more than he does many years later all right he didn't see it with his physical eyes at all in the whole of his lifetime but we're told here that this Vision this what what he was seeing this attending to what God had said to him and focusing on it it kept him going all through that Journey so then I hope I've made it clear that we've got spiritual eyes and we need to learn to use them if we haven't learned already so now what else do we need to do well only two more points very simple we need to look upwards we've already been talking about it with Abraham's story but we all of us need to learn this lesson we need to be constantly looking upwards towards God in that same chapter of Hebrews 11 it gives us the starting point of what it means to look upwards to God it says we need first of all to believe that he exists and hopefully for us here this morning that's not an issue we've started there already and then the second part is that he rewards those who seek him now that sounds like the Abundant Life we were talking about at the beginning doesn't it this is the God we're talking about this is the God we serve we need need to believe Faith see that he exists and also see and understand say yeah I see I get it he's a God who loves to do good to us he loves to reward those who seek him so how can we practically do this well the the scriptures give us the basis the scriptures are full of pictures and so elsewhere in the Bible we know what heaven is like we know where God is and what his environment is like we know that he's Seated on a throne he sits in a throne room this is around usually a very magnificent place in a palace in an important city right we've mentioned the city near the palace near the throne room we're told that around that Throne there's great huge great rainbow we're told that there are angels we're told that there are people that we're told that there's music and noise and activity we're told also a throne room is a place where decisions are made because that's where the king sits to rule from his court from his throne room but we know more than that we know more than that now from the New Testament we know about Jesus since Sunday school we've learned about Jesus we know about Jesus and scripture tells us now where we can see him and how we can see him and we're told he is seated also there in the throne room at God's right hand hand on the left as we look at them and why is he seated there because his work is done we know he came to Earth to live in an earth suit for a while that's why we've just celebrated Christmas but we know also having died and been raised from the dead he's ascended to heaven and now he's seated seated because his work is done seated because he's Victorious and seated because he's reigning as a king so these are all things that we can imagine they may be a bit blurry if our imag imagination is not too good some people only can see really in black and white but some people can also see in color there's all sorts of possibilities as I said earlier some people see more the words than the pictures but we're all able to see and we can all develop our seeing capacities now it's important to realize you got to look upward because there are other no they're not there's only one other possibility and that is we can look down all right I don't need to explain too much I think we understand what we mean when we look down we tend to look down all of us don't we we look down at the problems and the difficulties and there are many different problems in our Earth life here that we can be taken up with maybe health problems maybe financial problems maybe family problems maybe work problems maybe moving house problems who knows what it is but let's be clear behind all the difficulties in life there's only one person and that's the devil so we can either be looking up to God or looking down the devil basically because he's a deceiver and a liar and he hides behind all these things but whereas God wants to bless us and reward us the devil's out to destroy us now fortunately just let's make it clear the devil's nowhere near as big and as strong as God he's just a a tiny little porn compared to God but nonetheless he's real evil is real death in in this world is real destruction is real it's not that we're saying we hide our head in the sand and pretend everything's wonderful when it's not no it's being realistic about life on Earth and then saying okay what do we do about it to be successful what do we do about it to come through all these things what do we do about about it to be Victorious and come out with a fullness of an abundant life we need to look up not down and then the next thing which is complimentary we need to look forward and this is very appropriate for us now at the beginning of the New Year we're all going to be looking forward regardless but what are we looking forward to and here I'm purposely giving you a a word that has a double a phrase that has a double meaning we're looking forward in the sense that that we're looking into the future okay we're looking forward in that sense we're not going to spend our whole time looking back Wards even if we do it for a short time but we're hopefully also looking forward in the sense that there's anticipation and excitement and a desire to find out because God has good things to give us now we were very fortunate in our family we've only have a small family here in Australia but we ended up having quite a few presents around the Christmas tree last week and even at my age I still kind find it quite exciting if if it's not a present I've bought I want to find out what's in there you know and there's this anticipation and this excitement of looking forward to the moment when it's decided we can now open those gifts right to find out what they are looking forward God has good gifts that he wants to give us we don't yet know what they are we cannot yet see them we cannot yet humanly experience them but we believe Faith believe right by faith we see the good gifts and we anticipate them and we look forward to them so yes as I said we're not covering that up there are challenges but the good thing is that God has promised to be with us and to stay with us through all those challenges and difficulties and to turn them to good he's the only one that can turn them to good yes there's evil in the world we may have suffered bad things which were unfair and unjust that's probably true for all of us but the great thing with our God he's so creative he can even turn bad things into good isn't that amazing so as we look forward then to this new year this new season that's the question what are we looking up to what are we looking for forward to what what are we seeing in our Mind's Eye what are we anticipating what are we there's another word what what are we envisaging if you listen to the news and if you listen to what's going on around us we know there are many bad things going on we know there are people talking who are promising us more bad things like more pandemics and 15minute cities and about having nothing but being happy probably you've heard about those kinds of of things we're not just making them up they've been really said by real people but the question is do we fix our minds our sights on those things do we focus on those things notice these words I'm using are all seeing words Focus for example because if we do then we have every reason to get depressed every reason to be D every reason to be miserable because there's no hope in those things it's all negative I have met quite a few depressed people in my life and it's very sad their life is miserable it seems like everything seems to go wrong for them just goes from bad to worse why is this well depends on what you're seeing our verse that we started with tells us there's a spiritual connection between what you're see what you're looking at what you're focusing on and how your life is going is your life one of perishing of a downward slope or is it a life full of Abundant Life which is full of hope so we can also choose to fix our eyes on God and remind ourselves that he is in control he is bigger and more powerful than all the other things that we can hear about or see so we have to make that choice what are we going to fix our eyes upon or rather who are we going to fix our eyes upon it may seem too simple and too good to be true because in many ways a lot of what I've said you've heard it all before I'm just trying and hoping to focus your attention on this principle here at the beginning of the year to get us off to a good start in this coming new year so to do that I want in close closing I want to leave you with two practical suggestions two practical possibilities of things that you can do to actually put this into practice if you're the kind of person that tends to live in the dold drums you may need to make a decision to change I I I say as I say this I make confession to you I was one of those people so I know what I'm talking about I'm talking about this from experience because I was one of those people who tended to always see the problems tended to always see the difficulties I used to worry about the real difficulties and the imaginary difficulties and I went through a couple of phases in my life when I was really really down and so I've had to learn these things in practice but I can tell you that they really do work God's word is true the problem is we hear them very often but we don't put them into practice so here's one suggestion and that is to create a personal vision statement now you've Pro probably possibly heard of vision statements before they've become quite popular all sorts of people do them but the real root of them is that this is a Biblical principle and we're talking about it from a a Christian spiritual point of view that the roots of it is in looking Vision having a vision that's looking to God now briefly if you're um if you're making notes you may want to make notes of these three points about vision statement needs to have these in three ingredients must have Jesus in it Jesus or God the father or God the Holy Spirit it must be personal it must have me in it and it must be positive so in terms of having Jesus in it I've been talking about that the whole time that's obvious we're looking up to God looking forward to how he wants to bless us it must be personal must have me in it now as I Was preparing this message I suddenly realized that the our church here we we have a vision statement uh for the church do does everybody know that we have a vision statement yeah I see a few heads nodding well I knew we had a vision statement but here's the confession I couldn't remember what it was H and I had to go back and look at it and I think it's actually right here somewhere isn't it certainly on the bulletin him we Proclaim now this illustrates for you what I'm trying to say here a very practical problem the problem with the church's vision statement is great for the church I have no problem with that at all it's a great idea and it's good that some people in past history decided to do this but the thing is it's not personal to me and it's a bit distant it's like it's it's out there it's it's somebody else so the point that I'm making is that we really need for this to work we really need to have a statement that's personal to me that's got me in it and again I was thinking for this morning what I was going to say and I was like I would so love to give you a a vision statement to walk out of the door with you know so you've got one to start the New Year tomorrow but I know very well that won't work because if I made it up it may be good for me but it probably won't be good for you we need something that connects to us how we are how we see life what we're going through and needs to be relevant to us so to give you and it needs to be positive I'll keep on talking about this but I want to put up these lists of suggestions I hope you can see those all right just to give some ideas of what I mean by a personal vision statement I'll read them through in case you can't see them the Lord is my shepherd now that's a really obvious one that's a scriptural one we know all know that phrase here's another one he will pull me through and that's not particularly a scriptural one and it doesn't matter it it just happened to be one that connected with somebody and they liked it it was helpful to them but you see it's got the three points and it's got Jesus in it it's got the person in it and it's got hope in it so that's the third ingredient he is faithful in all domains of my life his grace is sufficient for me I exist to take his kingdom wherever I go he who is in me is greater with Jesus I will always succeed I am a winner and then they're all short notice how they're short so they're good and memorable this one's the last one's a bit longer because I decided to do one based on the text that we are looking at when I attend to what he reveals I will be most blessed and live life to the full so having come up with something that really suits you the thing then is you've got to use it now I've had two in my life which I've used for different purposes years and years ago I received this teaching on vision statements so I did one way back then and it's been like a Guiding Light to me all through my life for for years and years and years now and I use it when I'm sort of feeling like I'm wondering what I'm doing I'm wondering where I'm at uh I have doubts about life and what's going on I come back to my vision statement and I remind myself this is what I'm here for and that motivates me to keep going going it's like Abraham with his city which he never saw in the whole of his lifetime but it kept him going right to the very end so that was one way I used it and then another time I was in a very very big difficulty in a big crisis and I mentioned that I used to see things negatively been I've been sliding down into the pit for a couple of years because this is how happen happens do EDC it creeps up on you and takes you unawares and you don't realize that you're focusing on the negative all the time but actually you are and so when I was in the midst of all that and it was like we were in a situation where we're basically we're going to lose everything it was really pretty bad I just had one phrase I couldn't really read my Bible anymore I couldn't pray anymore nothing was positive in life anymore it was like there was no hope and I finally came up or the Holy Spirit prompted me to come up with another vision statement which was totally relevant to that situation and for quite a long time all I could do was say this one little statement over and over to myself and it took just to let you know if you're really down in the pit it can take a couple years to get out but it's worth making the effort which is why I'm talking about it and sharing because if this happens to be you this morning and this is speaking to you let me encourage you to make a decision the beginning of this year with God's help ask other people's help too why not I don't don't think that's a problem choose life don't stay in the pit choose life and so the thing is then whether we're down in the dumps or whether things are going quite well it's a good idea then to memorize this vision statement and say it to yourself say it to yourself say it to yourself now why just briefly we've got spiritual eyes we spend all morning talking about that we've got spiritual ears as well and we've got our mouth our voice and the point is this as human beings basically there are some miraculous exceptions but very few basically our minds can only focus on one thing at a time you try it you'll see it's true it could be what you're seeing it could be what you're hearing but it's also what you're saying when you speak your speak speaking spiritual things and your mind is focusing on that thing that you're saying at that moment just like I am very consciously focusing on what I am saying right now and you I hope are focusing on what you're hearing one thing at a time and it fills our mind even if it's only for a second or two and that's the clue is whatever fills our minds that's what we're focusing on what we're focusing our minds on that's what feeds our spirit man and decides whether he's going from life to life and glory to glory or whether he's going from Death to death So speaking speaking it out is very important I can't spend any more time explaining it than that so that's the first thing then make up a personal vision statement and finally and very briefly this is a book A book recommendation it's a book by Edmund Chan called growing deep in faith you may remember he came and spoke to us about discipleship in September and very good teaching we had then and all this is about discipleship it's all about following the LA the Lord the master and how can we follow the master if we don't see him we've got to see him look to him fix our Gaze on him and notice the title of the book growing deep in faith there's that word again we've just explained faith is spiritual Vision spiritual eyesight the importance of Clear Vision it's the same thing the importance of clear Faith the importance of growing deep in faith so his whole book is about that and it's in little chunks very easy to read and the reason why I mention it is because it came to my attention in November at our our own church Council have decided that they're going to read this book together in their meetings this coming year and so I said to David ler about it it's like well look you know why don't we all read this book and then we'll all be going down the same track together as we go out into this new year and so he said yeah sure people want to do that that's great so I recommend it to you I've had a look at the book I haven't haven't read it yet but it's talking about the same kinds of things that I've been talking about with different pictures different examples different scriptures and the goal is to help us to see the master clearly so that we can follow him as we should and as we see him and follow him we will have life in all its fullness Abundant Life dear friends the choice is ours there life or death let's choose life and do something practical about it let's pray father God we want to thank you once again for your word thank you that although it was written such a long time ago it is still living in VI vibrant and relevant to us today we are all of us here Spiritual Beings that you've made in your image living on this planet for a time you've given us all spiritual eyes to see so Lord we pray that you will open our eyes to see you help us to choose decide to look upwards to you to look forwards with excitement with an anticipation for the good things that you have in store for us help us to fix our eyes on that Heavenly City Jerusalem or whatever other particular specific Vision you give us it's relevant to us personally so that we can keep going through the difficulties because yes there are difficulties but thank you that you've promised to be with us you've promised to turn the bad things into good you've promised to bless us you've promised to reward us you've promised to give give us many good things so we thank you for that we receive that now in faith and we say Lord Holy by your Holy Spirit help us to see you fix our eyes on you in Jesus name we pray. Amen.