This summer I’ve been preaching a sermon series entitled “The Great Hymns of Our Faith.” I didn’t originally plan to preach on the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” but recently I have spoken with so many people who are struggling and hurting and this hymn, I think, helps in times of trouble. May God bless you and encourage you as you read.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Matthew 6:25-34, Colossians 3:1-4
August 16, 2009
In the past few weeks Iâ€™ve had so many conversations with people â€“ both with personal friends and people from our church â€“ who are simply overwhelmed by life right now. Be it untenable work situations, trying personal issues or worry about our countryâ€™s problems, this has not been a carefree summer for many, perhaps most.
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the distractions and frustrations we face daily. Jesus understood this and throughout his time on earth, he repeatedly reminded us the answer is stop focusing on this world and instead to fix our attention on him. In doing so, lifeâ€™s problems come into perspective and fade away.
In one instance Jesus said, â€œDo not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. And youâ€™re much more valuable than they are. Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?â€ (Matthew 6:25-27). Godâ€™s has promised to care for and provide everything we need. Worrying and fretting and stressing out only serve to make us nervous wrecks. Instead, we need to fully rely on and trust in God in all situations and circumstances. To do that, our attention needs to be fixed on our Triune God.
In Colossians 3:1-4, Paul writes, â€œSince you have been raised with Christ, â€¦ set your minds on things above, not only earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.â€ When Paul speaks about dying and being raised, heâ€™s speaking of baptism. In baptism, we die to ourselves and to the things of this world and we rise anew alive to Christ. Therefore, we are no longer vulnerable to this world and its troubles. Romans 8:38-39, â€œNeither life nor death neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.â€
When we focus on earthly troubles, we are in danger of forgetting our baptism. We donâ€™t need to be anxious about life because we have been born again as Godâ€™s children whom he loves and protects. Nothing can separate us from God and his love.
The hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, wasnâ€™t written under particular circumstances. In 1918, the author, Helen Lemmel, read a passage from Christian pamphlet which inspired her to write these encouraging lyrics: â€œTurn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.â€ May God give us the grace, when the things of this world are threatening to overwhelm us, to turn our eyes towards him. And when we look full in his wonderful face, may we experience the peace which only he can give.”