Day 244

Fix Your Eyes on the Invisible

Wisdom Psalm 104:31-35
New Testament 2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Old Testament Micah 1:1-4:13


Do you ever get discouraged? Are you ever tempted to ‘lose heart’? If you are, you are not alone. Paul was almost certainly tempted himself to lose heart, and he wrote to other Christians who were also tempted to do so.

Yet Paul wrote, ‘We do not lose heart’ (2 Corinthians 4:1,16). ‘We do not throw up our hands and walk off the job’ (v.1, MSG). Why not? Paul explains that it is because in Jesus we have received a ‘treasure’ (v.7). The treasure is the message of Jesus. It is because the message that Paul has to proclaim is so amazing that he starts and ends by saying, ‘Therefore… we do not lose heart’ (vv.1,16).

Yet the treasure is inward and unseen. Paul describes it as being in ‘jars of clay’ (v.7). Our culture emphasises the outward and the seen. The media is dominated by physical beauty and outward success. The Bible stresses the importance of the inward and unseen: the beliefs, thoughts and attitudes that determine our outward behaviour. ‘For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal’ (v.18). The invisible is eternal.


Psalm 104:31-35

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
   may the Lord rejoice in his works —
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
   who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
   I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
   as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
   and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.


Inward and unseen thoughts

If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate! All you need to do is change what you think about and you will be practising Christian meditation.

‘Meditation’ (v.34) means what you think about, what you allow your mind to dwell on. Your actions and your words are vital. But it is not just your actions and words that can please the Lord or not; it is your inward and unseen meditation as well.

The psalmist praises God for the entire created universe. He says, ‘I will sing to the Lord all my life’ (v.33). Then, he prays, ‘May my meditation be pleasing to him’ (v.34).

What does this mean practically? The apostle Paul has some good advice: ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8).


Lord, may my actions, words and thoughts be pleasing to you today.

New Testament

2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Present Weakness and Resurrection Life

4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


Inward and unseen treasure

You have the most powerful message in the world. Faith in Jesus is utterly transformational, both now and into eternity. ‘We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence’ (v.14). You will live for ever.

This life is not the end, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal: ‘The things we can’t see now will last forever’ (v.18, MSG).

Secularisation has led to the world – and now even the church – forgetting about ‘eternity’. We focus on, and value, the things we can see and handle. ‘Eternity’ is a vital part of the message.

In proclaiming the message about Jesus there are four things to which we must say ‘No’:

  1. No secrecy
    ‘We have renounced secret… ways’ (v.2). ‘We refuse to wear masks’ (v.2a, MSG). There needs to be openness in everything we do: ‘We keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display’ (v.2b, MSG).

  2. No shame
    ‘We have renounced… shameful ways’ (v.2). We should not do anything that, if discovered, we might be ashamed about.

  3. No deception
    ‘We do not use deception’ (v.2). ‘We don’t manoeuvre and manipulate behind the scenes’ (v.2, MSG).

  4. No distortion
    ‘Nor do we distort the word of God’ (v.2). ‘We don’t twist God’s word to suit ourselves’ (v.2, MSG). We must not change the message to make it more acceptable. On the contrary, Paul writes that he sets forth the truth ‘plainly’ (v.2).

    Because the gospel is unseen and inward, not everyone sees it. ‘It is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (vv.3–4). I was like that. I heard the message, but I simply could not make head or tail of it.

    It is only when God shines his light into our hearts that we can see ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (v.6).

    The message is all about Jesus: ‘Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get’ (v.4, MSG). ‘Remember, our message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master’ (v.5, MSG).

    We are all vulnerable, fragile ‘jars of clay’ (v.7). Inside is the ‘treasure’ (v.7), which is inward and ‘unseen’ (v.18). Do not be surprised if, sometimes, Christian leaders fall. We, the messengers, are weak and fragile. If you received your faith from someone who has now lost theirs or has messed up in some way, understand that the message came to you in a jar of clay. It is not the jar that matters, but the message. The treasure is the message of Jesus. It is given by the mercy of God (v.1).

    God has deliberately put the treasure in jars of clay: ‘We carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us’ (v.7, MSG).

    Although the jars are wasting away, and ‘on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace’ (v.16, MSG). You may be ‘hard pressed’ by financial and other pressures, and perplexed by things that happen to you. You may be criticised and ‘persecuted’ and at times ‘struck down’ (vv.8–9).

    But ‘our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all’ (vv.16–17). ‘These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us’ (v.17, MSG).

    ‘So,’ Paul writes, ‘we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (v.18). As Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa writes, ‘A new standard of measurement has been introduced that makes crosses and trials seem light and momentary: Eternity.'


Lord, thank you that you have given us eternal life in Jesus. Help me to fix my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.

Old Testament

Micah 1:1-4:13

1 The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah —the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

2 Hear, you peoples, all of you,
   listen, earth and all who live in it,
that the Sovereign Lord may bear witness against you,
   the Lord from his holy temple.

Judgment Against Samaria and Jerusalem

3 Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling place;
   he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth.
4 The mountains melt beneath him
   and the valleys split apart,
like wax before the fire,
   like water rushing down a slope.
5 All this is because of Jacob’s transgression,
   because of the sins of the people of Israel.
What is Jacob’s transgression?
   Is it not Samaria?
What is Judah’s high place?
   Is it not Jerusalem?

6 “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble,
   a place for planting vineyards.
I will pour her stones into the valley
   and lay bare her foundations.
7 All her idols will be broken to pieces;
   all her temple gifts will be burned with fire;
   I will destroy all her images.
Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes,
   as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.”

Weeping and Mourning

8 Because of this I will weep and wail;
   I will go about barefoot and naked.
I will howl like a jackal
   and moan like an owl.
9 For Samaria’s plague is incurable;
   it has spread to Judah.
It has reached the very gate of my people,
   even to Jerusalem itself.
10 Tell it not in Gath;
   weep not at all.
In Beth Ophrah
   roll in the dust.
11 Pass by naked and in shame,
   you who live in Shaphir.
Those who live in Zaanan
   will not come out.
Beth Ezel is in mourning;
   it no longer protects you.
12 Those who live in Maroth writhe in pain,
   waiting for relief,
because disaster has come from the Lord,
   even to the gate of Jerusalem.
13 You who live in Lachish,
   harness fast horses to the chariot.
You are where the sin of Daughter Zion began,
   for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.
14 Therefore you will give parting gifts
   to Moresheth Gath.
The town of Akzib will prove deceptive
   to the kings of Israel.
15 I will bring a conqueror against you
   who live in Mareshah.
The nobles of Israel
   will flee to Adullam.
16 Shave your head in mourning
   for the children in whom you delight;
make yourself as bald as the vulture,
   for they will go from you into exile.

Human Plans and God’s Plans

2 Woe to those who plan iniquity,
   to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
   because it is in their power to do it.
2 They covet fields and seize them,
   and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
   they rob them of their inheritance.

3 Therefore, the Lord says:

“I am planning disaster against this people,
   from which you cannot save yourselves.
You will no longer walk proudly,
   for it will be a time of calamity.
4 In that day people will ridicule you;
   they will taunt you with this mournful song:
‘We are utterly ruined;
   my people’s possession is divided up.
He takes it from me!
   He assigns our fields to traitors.’”

5 Therefore you will have no one in the assembly of the Lord
   to divide the land by lot.

False Prophets

6 “Do not prophesy,” their prophets say.
   “Do not prophesy about these things;
   disgrace will not overtake us. ”
7 You descendants of Jacob, should it be said,
   “Does the Lord become impatient?
   Does he do such things?”

“Do not my words do good
   to the one whose ways are upright?
8 Lately my people have risen up
   like an enemy.
You strip off the rich robe
   from those who pass by without a care,
   like men returning from battle.
9 You drive the women of my people
   from their pleasant homes.
You take away my blessing
   from their children forever.
10 Get up, go away!
   For this is not your resting place,
because it is defiled,
   it is ruined, beyond all remedy.
11 If a liar and deceiver comes and says,
   ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’
   that would be just the prophet for this people!

Deliverance Promised

12 “I will surely gather all of you, Jacob;
   I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a pen,
   like a flock in its pasture;
   the place will throng with people.
13 The One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
   they will break through the gate and go out.
Their King will pass through before them,
   the Lord at their head.”

Leaders and Prophets Rebuked

3 Then I said,

“Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
   you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice,
   2 you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
   and the flesh from their bones;
3 who eat my people’s flesh,
   strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
   who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot? ”

4 Then they will cry out to the Lord,
   but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
   because of the evil they have done.

5 This is what the Lord says:

“As for the prophets
   who lead my people astray,
they proclaim ‘peace’
   if they have something to eat,
but prepare to wage war against anyone
   who refuses to feed them.
6 Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
   and darkness, without divination.
The sun will set for the prophets,
   and the day will go dark for them.
7 The seers will be ashamed
   and the diviners disgraced.
They will all cover their faces
   because there is no answer from God. ”
8 But as for me, I am filled with power,
   with the Spirit of the Lord,
   and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
   to Israel his sin.

9 Hear this, you leaders of Jacob,
   you rulers of Israel,
who despise justice
   and distort all that is right;
10 who build Zion with bloodshed,
   and Jerusalem with wickedness.
11 Her leaders judge for a bribe,
   her priests teach for a price,
   and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say,
   “Is not the Lord among us?
   No disaster will come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you,
   Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
   the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

The Mountain of the Lord

4 In the last days

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
   as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
   and peoples will stream to it.

2 Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
   so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
   the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He will judge between many peoples
   and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
   and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
   nor will they train for war anymore.
4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
   and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
   for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
5 All the nations may walk
   in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord
   our God for ever and ever.

The Lord’s Plan

6 “In that day,” declares the Lord,

“I will gather the lame;
   I will assemble the exiles
   and those I have brought to grief.
7 I will make the lame my remnant,
   those driven away a strong nation.
The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion
   from that day and forever.
8 As for you, watchtower of the flock,
   stronghold of Daughter Zion,
the former dominion will be restored to you;
   kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem. ”

9 Why do you now cry aloud—
   have you no king ?
Has your ruler perished,
   that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labour?
10 Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion,
   like a woman in labour,
for now you must leave the city
   to camp in the open field.
You will go to Babylon;
   there you will be rescued.
There the Lord will redeem you
   out of the hand of your enemies.

11 But now many nations
   are gathered against you.
They say, “Let her be defiled,
   let our eyes gloat over Zion!”
12 But they do not know
   the thoughts of the Lord;
they do not understand his plan,
   that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.
13 “Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion,
   for I will give you horns of iron;
I will give you hooves of bronze,
   and you will break to pieces many nations.”
You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord,
   their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.


Inward and unseen power

You can be greatly used by God.

What the prophet Micah says can be true for us all, ‘As for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might’ (3:8a). Power comes from the inward and unseen work of the Holy Spirit.

Micah spoke with great power. He championed the cause of the underprivileged. As in the case of Jonah, Micah’s warnings were heeded and disaster was avoided (see Jeremiah 26:18).

Micah spoke out against injustice and greed. Like most sin, it starts with inward and unseen plans: ‘Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds!’ (Micah 2:1a).

They sow thoughts and reap actions. ‘They covet fields and grab them, find homes and take them. They bully the neighbour and his family, see people only for what they can get out of them’ (vv.1b–2). (This is an extraordinarily accurate description of what we would now describe as ‘land grabbing’.)

Micah’s words are particularly aimed at the ‘leaders’ (3:1a). ‘Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil’ (vv.1b–2a). He accuses them of treating the people like animals (vv.2–3). He warns them that if they treat the poor unjustly, God will not hear their prayers (v.4).

Money seems to have been at the root of the injustice. As so often, it is greed that leads to injustice:

‘Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidder,
   priests mass-market their teaching,
   prophets preach for high fees,
All the while posturing and pretending
   dependence on God’ (v.11, MSG).

One day, God will put things right. God ‘will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes’ (4:3). There will be peace. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more’ (v.3b). There will also be justice. There will be a fair dispersal of land: ‘Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig-tree’ (v.4a).

Ultimately what matters is the inward and unseen thoughts of God, ‘… they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan’ (v.12).


Lord, thank you that one day you will right all wrongs and bring everlasting peace. In the meantime, filled with the Spirit of the Lord, help me to fix my eyes on you.

Pippa adds

In 2 Corinthians 4:7 it says:

‘We have this treasure in jars of clay.’

I’m very conscious of being a ‘jar of clay’. And my particular jar is getting rather old, chipped and cracked!

I may be flawed, but God's ‘all-surpassing power’ still lives in me.



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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

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