“Keep your eye on the ball…” I’m sure you’ve all heard someone say that before. If you’re playing baseball and you keep whiffing on every pitch the coach may remind you to keep your eye on the ball… focus on the ball the whole time… don’t let your eyes wander to try and pick up a signal from the catcher… don’t scan the outfield to see how their playing you… just keep your eye on the ball… focus! This is a common saying not just in baseball but in many sports isn’t it? Football, golf, basketball… it’s important to not lose sight of what’s important… if you do… if you get distracted… well, you’ll end up dropping the ball… you’ll swing and miss… you’ll strike out.
We’re closing our sermon series today with a reminder from God to keep our eye’s focused. Not on a ball of course but on wisdom… God’s wisdom. We’ve been reminded in this sermon series that God’s wisdom is found in God’s Word alone – in the Bible. God’s Word is the light that guides our way (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word is the one thing we truly need in this life (Luke 10:41-42). God’s Word is our body armor and our weapon in the daily battle with sin and Satan (Ephesians 6:11-17).
And so no matter what modern issue we discuss, what current problems we face, it’s the ancient wisdom of God’s Word that will direct us. And you know that… in fact that’s why you’re here today… that’s why your listening… like Mary in the Gospel lesson today you want to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear what he has to say. You want to be equipped, as Paul wrote in the 2nd Lesson from Ephesians – equipped with spiritual body armor and ready to do battle.
Having God’s Word as the focus for yourself, for your life, for your family… is pretty easy when you are sitting in church and listening to God’s Word… but what’s the problem? Well, I can speak for myself I guess… when I leave church I find myself losing focus more often than not… in fact even before the service is over I sometimes find myself thinking about what I’ll be doing later today or later this week… and sadly I stop listening at the feet of Jesus… I take off that armor of God’s Word… I lay down the sword of the Spirit… and when I do that… I lose focus.
Our sermon text today would call me… well… a fool: A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24). Any fellow fools here today? Let’s consider today some of our foolish wandering… and how we might correct that by keeping our eye on the Bible… keeping focused on the wisdom of God’s Word.
As I thought about this verse this past week I couldn’t help but think about all the excuses I’ve heard (and made myself) for not reading or studying God’s Word. But the more I thought about those excuses the more foolish I found them to be… I mean, it’s almost laughable when you think about some of them.
You know, we’ll say we don’t have time to be in worship and Bible study every week… yet we make time to binge watch an entire season’s worth of T.V. shows on Netflix during the week. Or we’ll say that we can’t read the Bible at home on our own because it’s too long… there are too many characters to keep up with… too many difficult names… to many tedious sections that seem to be nothing more than statistics… and yet… many of us have no problem reading thousands of pages of fiction… and knowing all the characters from the Star Wars movies… many of us find hours each week to pour over football stats as we contemplate our fantasy football rosters… and while we don’t have the patience for the difficult names we find in Scripture we’re able to discuss star athletes like Tshimanga Biakabutuka and Osi Umenyiora as their names just roll off our tongues.
Just think about it! It’s kinda ridiculous isn’t it? We could go on and on here… but I think you get the point. We’re good at getting distracted… in fact we often fill our lives with distractions… with diversions… with things that we hope will ease our stress or bring us joy or make us feel better. We seek a certain kind of lifestyle for our families. We want health and wealth and happiness… but unless we keep wisdom – God’s wisdom – in view… we’re gonna just find ourselves wandering… looking to the ends of the earth… looking in all the wrong places for answers and meaning and happiness.
So how do we change that? How do we make God’s Word the focus for ourselves and our families? Well… it starts with being reminded of Jesus. Jesus is the reason we’ll listen to God’s Word and live God’s Word. And that’s because Jesus listened to God’s Word and lived God’s Word for us. The Bible tells us the amazing story of Jesus’ eagerness to hear and study God’s Word. When he was 12 years old Jesus was found in the temple courts by his parents listening to God’s Word and asking profound questions of the teachers gathered there. When Jesus grew older he made it his regular habit to worship weekly in the local synagogue where God’s Word was proclaimed. Jesus got up early to sneak away and spend time in prayer with his Father in heaven… clearly Jesus’ devotional life is something to be in awe of. But even more so… it’s something to be grateful for. Because when Jesus did those things he did them for you and me.
He did them so that when God looks at us who trust in Christ… well, God sees Jesus’ holy habits and Jesus’ perfect focus on the Word… he sees that in us – because he sees Jesus in us. Isn’t that amazing? Not only did Jesus pay for our foolish lack of focus when he died for our sins on the cross, but he also gave us a perfect track record in God’s sight when it comes to obeying God’s Word. We have a Savior who did it all. And he’s the reason… Jesus is the reason we want to listen to God’s Word… and Jesus is the reason we want to live God’s Word. His singular focus on the mission to save you and me… gives us a desire to focus on him and the Word that reveals him.
Now what will that look like? Well it will look like the focus that Jesus modeled in his life. It will look like weekly worship in God’s house. We’ll look forward to weekend worship because we know there we will receive God’s forgiveness in Word and Sacrament and find strength and encouragement from our fellow believers… in fact we’ll seek out additional ways to grow in understanding and appreciation of God’s grace. We’ll carve out time for Sunday School and Bible study at church… we’ll read devotions on our own each day or with our spouse or with our kids… we’ll make use of the great resources our Synod produces to help us study God’s Word – like devotion books from our publishing house which you can find in our church library… or the daily Meditations devotions which you can have delivered to your home or pick up here at church… or the WELS mobile app on your smart phone which offers daily devotions and Bible readings that you can read before work or even listen to on your way to work.
And again… why will we do this? Because we have tasted of God’s goodness. We have experienced God’s love for us in Jesus and we can’t get enough… And not only will we listen to God’s Word… we’ll live God’s Word. We’ll hear of God’s daily mercy for sinners though Jesus and we’ll quit thinking that we aren’t good enough for God. We’ll hear of God’s promise of protection against temptation and we’ll quit thinking we’re powerless when sin comes knocking on our door. We’ll live lives that are reflections of Christ because we are so very thankful for the forgiveness he won and the heaven he promises.
Keep your eye on the ball friends! Better yet… keep your eye on the Bible. There we hear that Christ Jesus… has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:27). Fix your eyes on Jesus and on the Word that reveals him. You’ll find that the sorrows and stresses… the daily distractions of this life… they won’t go away… but they’ll all start to fade into the background… and in their place Jesus will come into focus and when you see him clearly you’ll be truly equipped with God’s ancient wisdom for every issue you face in our modern world. Amen.