Matt Hagee - I Spy
Whether you know it or not, you're playing "I Spy" right now. You've been doing it since you got up and got dressed this morning, because "I Spy" has to do with perspective, how you see. And each and every one of us always have our own perspective, how we see determines how we feel. How we feel determines how we act. So you're perspective determines what you can receive. For example, how many of you have ever looked at a plate of delicious food? You've just looked at it. You haven't even eaten it yet. And automatically, because of the appearance of the food, your mouth begins to water. The aroma becomes the flavor. And you believe that what you're about to experience is going to be awesome. It could be terrible. But because it looks good, you believe it's going to be good.
How many of you are familiar with that? How many of you got hungry just thinking about food while I was talking? Everybody in this room, whether they want to admit it or not, we're playing "I Spy". Some of you have a perspective on church, and your perspective determines what you can receive. For example, let's just consider the audience in thirds. There's one-third of this audience in here right now, who looks at church through the lens of tradition. You come to a church service because it's your tradition. You consider it part of your family obligation. It's where dad, and mom, and all of your siblings gather. And so in order to feel close to them and keep tradition with what you've known in the past, you come to church. Church is a tradition for you. That's how you see it. That's not wrong, but how you see it determines what you can receive from it.
There's another group of people here at church today. They don't see church as a tradition. They don't see church as an obligation. They see church as a frustrating inconvenience. Maybe somebody made you come. Maybe somebody just guilted you until you couldn't help but be here, because better to spend 90 minutes in this place than listen to them all week long. It's not hard to find out who you are. You do stuff like this... Pick up your cell phone and... Somebody claps, and you go... That's all right. You can be frustrated about church. There are people who come to church every week surprised that they're here. You need to realize that the sovereign God isn't surprised by your presence. He knew you were going to be here.
You see church as an irritation. And your perspective determines what you can receive from it. And yet, there's still another group that has a perspective on church. They don't see church as a tradition. They don't see church as a frustration. They see church as what happens on the Lord's day. They recognize that this is not just any day: this is a divine appointment day. This is a moment when God has set time aside in his week, and said, if you'll come see me at my house, I'll go home with you to your house. He sees us this day in his house. And we declare, "This is the day that the Lord has made, and we will rejoice and be glad in it".
We see this day as an opportunity to talk to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We see this day as a day when dead things can come back to life, when broken hearts can be mended, when the Holy Spirit can lift burdens and destroy yokes. We see this day, and we say like king David, "Better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewhere. I was glad when they said unto me, 'let us go into the house of the Lord'". Because in God's house, miracles happen! In God's house, sinners become sons and daughters! In God's house, ruined lives are restored! In God's house, tragedy becomes a triumph! In God's house, trials become testimonies! In God's house, victims become conquerors.
Church, in God's house, the weak with made strong: the lame, they can leap again: the sorrowful, they can sing again: the broken, they can live again. In God's house, the windows of heaven are opened and blessings are poured out we cannot contain! Oh Lord, my God, what a joy to be in your house together in your name to read your word, to know that this is the day that you have made! "I Spy" is a game of perception and it's a powerful game. Because when somebody plays "I Spy," what happens is you focus. And the second you focus, you begin to ignore everything else. You're driving down the road at 80 miles an hour, and there's all kinds of things to see.
You can see the trees. You can see the grass. You can see other cars. You can see all kinds of things. But whenever you're playing "I Spy," and your five-year-old daughter says, "I Spy with my little eye, something yellow," the second she says, "Yellow," you ignore everything that's green, everything that's red, everything that's blue, everything that's anything but what? Yellow. Why? Because she is now in charge of your focus. She's describing something and you want to guess what it is, so you don't look at a lot of things. But you're searching for that one thing. That's why you always need to pay attention to who you're getting your perspective from, because the limitation of the person providing your perspective will be the limitation that's on your life. What you see determines how you feel. What you feel determines what you do. And what you do determines your outcomes.
Now the thing about perspective is that two people can be looking at the same thing and see the same thing, and see something totally different. How many of you have ever had this phenomenon? The reason for that is because you have, in your brain, something called "The visual cortex". And the visual cortex, it stores every image that you've ever seen. It's like your own personal iCloud. And when somebody begins talking, and they use words that your brain has heard or seen before, immediately you begin pulling up one image after the other, and you create a picture in your mind that even if what you're talking about is not in front of you, you can see it. And this is the power of perspective.
In John 9:1, there's a huge game of "I Spy" that's being played. And Jesus, his disciples, the people who lived next to the blind man in Jerusalem, and the pharisees, are all involved. All of them are looking at one man. But all of them have very different perspectives. Let's deal with the first perspective. John 9:1, it says, "And Jesus saw a man blind from birth". Now there is a sermon in that one sentence for every human being that draws breath. Every person that is born is born in sin. And every person in sin is born blind at birth. That's how God sees all of us until Jesus comes and redeems our lives and give us new sight. So Jesus sees a blind man born blind at birth. He sees him as he is, and he sees him for what he needs.
There's another perspective. The disciples, they look at this blind man, and they say, "I Spy, with my little eye, a sinner". Because they ask Jesus in verse 2. They say, "Lord, who sinned: this man or his parents, that he might be born blind"? Trying to sound spiritual, they want to come up with someone to blame for the circumstances in his life. There will always be people who will try to analyze situations in your life so that they know who to blame. And the reason that the disciples get to this point is the disciples have done two things. One, they've taken a look at his situation: and two, they've misapplied information.
How many of you've ever seen somebody take misinformation and really get serious about the fact that they're right? You see the disciples know what the Bible says, in Exodus 34:7, because there it says that the sins of the father shall be visited upon the children and the children's children to the fourth generation. Four generations is 200 years. So the disciples look at this man born blind. They say, "That's a curse". Obviously, if he's a curse, then God caused it. If God caused it, then somebody in his family history must have sinned that he would be born blind. So they see the same man Jesus sees. But rather than seeing a man in need, they see a sinner. "Who sinned that he would be born blind"? And Jesus says, "Nobody sinned. He's this way so that the glory of God may be revealed".
Now God's glory is revealed, because the blind man receives his sight. But then we see a third perspective, because the blind man, who can now see, he goes and he shows his neighbors. He says, hey, I can see. And the neighbors, they look at him and they go, you look like the blind guy, but you're not the blind guy, because the blind guy can't see. There will always be people who want to base their perspective of your current situation and your future on what they know about you in the past. They've known you so long that they want to tell you that they know everything you're capable of and everything you're ever going to do, based on their past perception of you. And then the fourth perspective, the pharisees in Jerusalem, they see this miracle. They hear it's on the sabbath day and it angers them. It angers them, not because a blind man can see. They don't even want to talk about the powerful miracle that they've just witnessed. They want to discuss the reason why this man has gone from disqualified to qualified.
Because you see, in the Bible, the blind and the lame could not enter into the temple. The temple is the holiest place in Jerusalem. The temple was being controlled by the pharisees. And this man, in his blindness, has to sit outside the temple. Now because he's been restored, he can go into the temple. So he was disqualified. Now he's qualified, and they're mad. And the reason they're mad is because he was qualified by the power of God: he wasn't qualified by their permission. There will always be people in your life who want their permission to determine your outcome. You're successful, but they didn't say you could succeed. You're happy, but they didn't say you could be happy. You're moving forward, but they want to hold you back. Don't you let anyone's limited perspective of your life become the definition of your life!
Listen to what God has to say about you. And let his perception become your reality! Don't let someone else's limitation restrain you or hold you back from God's provision. Don't let their description become your destiny. Don't let their assumption become your reality. Don't let the things that they know about you yesterday, and the fragments and the pieces that they see in you today, become the thing that keep you from becoming who God called you to be. Because the Bible that we read says that he calls those things that are not as though they were. And you need to know that God and God alone is the only one who sees you just like you are.
He sees you where you are. He sees what you've been through. He sees what you're going to. He sees what you're lacking. He knows what's in your heart. He sees you. And he doesn't call you based on the past. He doesn't call you based on other's perceptions. He doesn't call you based on their predictions. He looks at you and he calls you his own! He calls you his son! He calls you his daughter! He says, "I call those things that are not as though they were". He says, your past, I'll wash it in scarlet, and make it white as snow! Your yesterdays, I'll declare, "All things have passed away".
He sees you today, and he says, if you're broken, I'll mend you. He says, if you're a failure, I'll favor you. If you're hopeless, I'll give you hope. He sees you, church, and he calls you. He looks in this sanctuary, and he says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all". He says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit". He sees the struggle, and he says, trust in me: I'll lead you to victory. He sees the weak, and he says, I'll make you strong. He sees the poor. He says, I'll make you rich. He sees the broken. He says, I'll mend you. He sees the ruined. He says, I'll restore you. He looks at the bound. He says, I'll set you free. He looks at the sick. He says, I'll heal you. He looks at the defeated. He says, you have victory! Give the Lord a handclap of praise!
Others look at you and say, "Oh, no. I spy with my little eye". You say, "That's the problem: you've got little eyes". You don't see what God sees. You don't know what God knows. You can't do what God can do. Church, be childlike enough to listen to the Word of God. Ignore what man's perspective is. Focus on what God's perspective is. And let the hand of God convert your perception from what men say about you to what he says about you. He says, if you see a mountain, I see it moving. If you see a giant, I see a victory. If you see a storm, I'll show you great and mighty things that you know not. Perception is so powerful that you need to know you cannot erase it: you have to replace it. Say that with me. You cannot erase it: you have to replace it. Say it again, you cannot erase it: you have to replace it.
And it's a must, because perception determines feelings. Feelings determine actions. And when something happens in our life, we create a mental picture of that moment. And every time we encounter anything like that moment, we pull up that same picture. And it makes us feel just like we did the first time we got hurt, the first time we were betrayed, the first time we were rejected. And we begin to act as if the thing that's in front of us is just like that old wound. Why? Because you cannot erase it: you have to replace it. This is why people say things like, "I just can't get it out of my head". Have you ever said that? It's true: you can't. That visual cortex creates the images, and it stores it in a file.
For example, if I told you, "Hey, right now I want you to think about a big, red, juicy apple," it's crisp when you bite it. It smells fresh. It's juicy. It's flavorful. It's the most wonderful apple you've ever eaten in your whole life. Right now, if you're listening, about half of you have a picture of a beautiful, red apple in your head. Now erase it. Just get rid of it. I don't want to think about an apple. You say, "I can't stop thinking about an apple". You started talking about an apple. Now I think about an apple. I've got an apple with a big "No" sign in front of it. But I'm still thinking about the stupid apple. Okay. Let's think about lemons. Oh, I'm not thinking about apples anymore. Now I see a lemon.
You see, until something else takes the place of the image, it stays there. And in every wound and every place of failure, in everything in your life that you harbor and hold onto that has your heart broken in a million pieces, Jesus says, I want to replace it. We're not going to erase it: I just want to replace it. That moment that your heart broke, that day that you were betrayed, that hour that you thought life was absolutely over, I want to replace it. I don't want you to see through man's eyes. I want you to see through God's eye, because I have promised you all things work together for good.
This is how Joseph could tell his brothers, "What you intended for evil, God did for good". He didn't erase it. He remembered the pit. He remembered what it was like to sit down in that dungeon and cry, because nobody cared and nobody heard him. He remembered the rejection. He remembered the betrayal. He remembered all of those things. And when his brothers stood in front of him, God replaced all of those things with the plan and the purpose of God in his life. Joseph saw it but he didn't see it as an offense. He saw it as a vehicle to his destiny. He saw it with God in it. And that's what I want you to do today. I want you to give me the opportunity to help you replace what you're trying to erase and you can't erase it.
If you would... would you close your eyes for just a moment? I want you to go to a place of pain in your life. I want you to go to a day that you'd like to forget. I want you to go to a moment that it hurts. I want you to go somewhere that you don't like going, even if you've got to take the lid off the box that you put it in, and pull it back out for just a moment. And you say, "Pastor, that hurts. I don't want to do it". I promise you if you'll give the Holy Spirit an opportunity, it'll be worth it. I want you to think about where you are and what's going on, and how you wish it never happened.
And then I want you to see a man. And this man has his arms stretched open wide. And through each of his hands, nails have been driven. And his feet have been placed one on top of the other, and they're pounded together into the base of a tree. On his head is a crown of piercing thorns. And blood not only drips from his brow but all over his beaten body. He's doing everything he can to take every ounce of strength and just breathe. And yet, in spite of how much agony he's in, he's talking about you. He's speaking to the father in heaven, and he says, "Forgive them. Forgive them. They know not what they do". And with everything that he has left in his physical body, he takes one last gulp of air. And he looks towards the heavens, and he declares, "It is finished".
And right in that moment, he's talking about you today. He's talking about what men said about you. He's talking about what the past has done to you. He's talking about the betrayal and the worst of life that you've been through. And he says, I don't want you to erase it: I just want to replace it with the sacrifice of my only begotten son, Jesus Christ. From now on, when the enemy pulls that image up in your mind, don't see it through his perspective. See it through God's perspective, because it's under the blood. It's under the blood.
Allow the hand of God to show you what it means that whom the son sets free is free indeed. Whatever image you need to replace, let it be replaced today by the hand of a loving father, who gave his only begotten son: that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. It's finished today, church. Your pain from yesterday is finished. Your brokenness is finished. Your hurt is finished, because when Jesus saw you today, he said, I'll replace it with my shed blood, and give you life in a place of death, give you hope in a place of sorrow, give you strength in a place of weakness. In Jesus' name, it is finished. Give the Lord a handclap of praise.
I say this in closing: some of you will go, "Nice touch preacher, nice touch". That's because you have a carnal perspective about the things that the eyes of faith can do. You say, "How do I know it's finished"? Listen to verse 25. You see in verse 1, Jesus sees a blind man. In verse 25, the blind man speaks for himself. And this is how you know. The pharisees, they want to argue. "Who is the man that touched you? How were you healed? How could he do this? Is he the Son of God? Is he a prophet? Is he a sinner? What do you say"? And the blind man says, "Listen. If he's a sinner, if he's a prophet, if he's the Son of God, I don't know". And if I could put in parenthesis, he'd say, "And frankly, I don't care". "But one thing I do know: I was blind".
One thing I do know, this morning when I woke up, I couldn't see the sunrise. This morning when I sat down on my pillow, you people walked by me like you have for 40 years because I couldn't see. You ignored me. You couldn't do anything for me. You talked as if I wasn't even there. That was then! One thing I know, I was blind, but then that man touched me, and now I can see. Now I can see.
Yesterday, I was broken. Yesterday, I was lonely. Yesterday, I was hurting. Yesterday, I was bitter. Yesterday, I was offended. Yesterday, I was sick. Yesterday, I needed a touch. But today, because I've been in God's house and he's touched me. Today, I have joy unspeakable. Today, I have hope for tomorrow. Today, I've got peace that surpasses understanding. Today, I've got a new outlook on life that says, if God be for me, who can be against me? Child of God, you don't have to listen to what others think. You don't have to listen to what others say. You can say, I know. I know. I know that Jesus did it! Give the Lord a handclap of praise!