I am continuing to address what I
believe the Holy Spirit has called us to regarding this year or season. That
theme appears on the slide: 2014 – A Year of Expanded Perspective.
I have a growing sense that it is easy
to do with this what we do with much of what is shared in sermons or Bible
studies; much of what we read in books or hear sung in songs: We embrace the
concept on an intellectual level but stumble over the truth when it starts to
work out in our lives.We struggle to see in the
details of our lives how God is bringing about the very thing we have
embraced intellectually and said “Amen” to.
Remember that perspective has to do with
what you see but more importantly how you see what you see;
the interpretation you give to what you see. This means that as my perspective
changes, grows and expands I will see the same things differently tomorrow than
how I see them today. That does not mean that my present view of them is wrong.
It does mean that I am seeing them more fully, seeing them with a greater
understanding and therefore I am seeing them differently.
The hardest thing we will ever
change is our mind. Much of the reason for that is
that we tend to think it is the mind of our neighbour that needs changing and
most of our energy goes into that.
The Bible has a great deal to say about
the mind. The Psalmist cried out: Ps.26: 2
Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart. We read in Prov.23:32 Your eyes will see strange
things. And your mind will utter perverse things.
how this Proverb links the eyes and the mind. That fact will be important to
this ongoing study. In addition to the eyes the ears are equally important. Perspective is
directly tied to what we see and what we hear.
to these words of Christ, and note the connection between these words: eyes, ears, seeing, hearing, understanding
Matt. 13: 14 – 17 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being
fulfilled, which says,
keep on hearing, butwill not understand; You will keep on seeing,but will not perceive;For
the heart of thispeople
has becomedull, With their ears they scarcelyhear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears, And
understand with their heart and return, And I would
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see;
and your ears, because they hear.“For truly I say to you that
many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see,
and did not seeit, and
to hear what you hear, and did not hearit.
tells us through the prophet that it is possible to have eyes and see nothing,
ears and hear nothing and a heart but understand nothing. This is the reality of stubborn eyes, stubborn ears and a stubborn
heart. When Jesus quoted Isaiah the prophet He then contrasted the
people Isaiah described with a very different type of people. Of these people Christ described their eyes as blessed
because they actually saw and their ears as blessed because they actually
carefully at these two people groups and understand this fact; they exist side
by side in every single church on this planet. And secondly understand that the perspective within each group is going
to be extremely different and even violently contrasted and conflicted. And
why?; – because of the state of each person’s eyes, ears and heart.
our Acts 9 story we meet two men with
very different and extremely strong perspectives. Both will experience a
transformation or expansion of perspective.
Acts 6 we meet a Christ follower
named Stephen. He is appointed to serve as deacon in the Jerusalem church. Here
is what we read of him: ‘And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great
wonders and signs among the people.’ At the end of the chapter he is
in court and we read this: ‘And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the
Council saw his face like the face of an angel.’
When we come to the final scene in Acts 7 we find Stephen being executed by
stoning. Here is what we read of him: ‘But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand
the core of what I have been saying; perspective is determined by what our eyes
see. And then look at Stephen’s perspective: ...he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do
not hold this sin against them!”
In all of this we discover this tiny
the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
This is followed by the chilling opening statement of Acts 8: Saul was in hearty agreement with
putting him to death.Join that with the opening statement of chapter 9; Now Saul,
still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord...Do we need
further clarity regarding Saul’s perspective? If he hated the followers of
Christ then it stands to reason he hated the Christ they followed.
In all of this – and this is a huge
essential to come to grips with – as horrifyingly and diabolically wrong as
Saul’s perspective was he himself was not insincere, dishonest or hypocritical.
This was his honest perspective regarding Christ and the followers of Christ.
This was his sincere perspective regarding the message of Christ and the
teachings carried on by His disciples.
You may wonder how a sincere and honest
and highly religious person could arrive at such a perspective as this. In Acts 22:3 we find the root or core of it
all in the words of Paul himself: I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but reared in this
city. At the feet of Gamaliel
I was educated according to the strictest care in the Law of our fathers, being
ardent [even a zealot] for God, as all of you are today.
In this story we meet a second man. His
name was Ananias. He too had a strong perspective – a perspective regarding the
first man, Saul of Tarsus. Note his response to the Lord: “Lord, I have heard from many about this man,
how much harm he did to your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority
from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”Notice,
his perspective was based on what he had heard, he had heard correctly and his
perspective was accurate.
God brings these two men of strong
perspective together, and in closing out this message I want you to note the
difference regarding what was required to bring about the transformation of
each man’s perspective. Let’s begin with Ananias.
All it took was a single vision in which
a conversation took place between the Lord and Ananias. And immediately we read
this response to that vision: So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying
his hands on him said, “Brother Saul...” Notice, he did not call him
a religious, legalistic fanatic; he did not call him murderer of saints and
persecutor of the church. He did not address him as a Jesus hater. He addressed
him as BROTHER! And here’s why. He spoke out of his
new, transformed and expanded perspective based upon the revelation of the Holy
Spirit in a vision.
When the eyes and ears of the heart are
as open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit as Ananias’s were, change of
perspective comes relatively easy. Saul is a different story.
First you blind him with light and knock
him down to get his attention. You blind his eyes in order to shut out all
distractions. He hears the voice of the one he hates. You humble him by making
him dependent upon others who lead him like a child. You bring him to a place
he was not intending to be. You let him stew for three days, and then you send
one of those very disciples he hated. Finally that disciple prays for you, and
according to the record: And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales,
and he regained his sight, and he got up and he was baptised.
This series of messages began when I
read the story of Elisha praying for his befuddled servant: “Lord, open his eyes.” Last week we
discovered the Lord opened the eyes of a donkey to behold the angel of the
Lord. And then he opened the eyes of Balaam the soothsayer. Today we have seen
the Lord open – what I am calling – the stubborn eyes of the world’s number one
religionist. We have also discovered how the Lord opened the eyes of his disciple
From this we take away two fundamental
realities: First, the only way our perspective can be
changed, transformed and expanded is for our eyes to first be opened. Second,
the only one who can truly open eyes is the Lord himself.
I am going to ask a series of questions
to which I invite all of you to respond. The response to each will be the same:
“Only the Lord
Who can open the eyes of Elisha’s servant? Who
can open the eyes of a donkey? Who can open the eyes of a soothsayer? Who can
open the stubborn eyes of a Saul of Tarsus? Who can open the eyes of Ananias
the disciple? Who can open our eyes? Who can open the eyes of all those we are