Seeing With Clarity
Seeing With Clarity.
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 28th October 2018.
I want to begin this morning with an incredible story from the life of the prophet Elisha.
In 2Kings, we hear how the King of Syria was planning to go to war against Israel.
2 Kings 6:8, “Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, “My camp will be in such and such a place.”
But the Syrian King soon realised that information was getting out to Israel about their camp locations. And none of his plans were having any effect, because the Israelites simply avoided going near them. This happened, it says, not just once or twice.
So the King of Syria called his servants to him and said, who is it among you all that is getting the word out to Israel? He thought, naturally enough, that there must have been a spy in their midst.
2 Kings 6:12, “And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.”
You could be forgiven for thinking that the writer of Kings had a bit of a sense of humour… saying Elisha was hearing in the spirit what was spoken in another nation, in someone else’s bedroom.
But this was no joking matter. Elisha was hearing the King’s private plans for ambushing Israel, even though he was probably hundreds of miles away.
That in itself is something to be in awe of, but it’s not the point of my message.
The King found out where Elisha was living and sent horses and chariots and a great army to capture him.
So one morning Elisha’s young servant gets up early and looks out the window to see this great army surrounding the city where they were staying. He ran back inside and said, Master, what are we going to do?
2 Kings 6:16-17, “So he (Elisha) answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “ Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
I love this story. I love Elisha’s prophetic gift, his faith, his cool and confident response to the servant’s fear and distress. I love more than anything, Elisha’s prayer, that his servant’s eyes would be opened to see things as they really are.
And what a fantastic picture of chariots of fire! Syria’s chariots would have looked like kids toys compared to the chariots of heaven.
There’s more to the story. The servants eyes were opened, but Elisha caused the Syrian armies eyes to be blinded. You can read about that for yourself.
The reason I’ve started with that amazing story is because I believe that God is wanting to open our eyes to see things for how they really are – to open our eyes to see and discern far more than what the natural world has to reveal to us.
I’m not sure that I want to hear what people are saying in their bedrooms, as Elisha did… but for me, that’s a really interesting analogy – because with the Holy Spirit’s help, we should be able to discern a person’s heart, to look into their eyes and look beyond whatever might be happening on the outside. We should be able to know simply because God has given us eyes to see and ears to hear.
I don’t know if all toddlers do this, but our newest grandchild, Adeline, has this habit of looking deep into our eyes as if she’s trying to understand and know things way beyond our words and silly baby antics. She’s on a wonderful path of discovery about life and people and how the world works. And her eyes are the key!
But that’s just what we need to be doing… look straight at the heart – look with wonder and awe – look as if there are things to discover that only the eyes can see.
Blaise Pascal, the famous French inventor, mathematician and physicist said, “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.” – Blaise Pascal.
We’ll never know the fullness of life by reasoning and understanding only with our mind. Never! Some things can only be seen and known with the heart!
God Himself says, He looks not at the outer, but at the heart. And so this is something that we are challenged with ourselves… how do we look beyond what we see with our natural eyes?
How do we overcome our carnal inclination to make snap judgements, put people in a box, and generally reason with our mind before we even really see a person for who they are?
The Holy Spirit is the revealer of truth. He will reveal not only our own heart to us, which is the first thing that should happen anyway, but then the hearts of others, if we’ll just allow our eyes to be opened.
If you are thinking that all sounds a bit too mystical and difficult… then you could do what Elisha’s young servant did. You could go to someone that you know is able to see and discern things in God. And ask them to help you to see. Get them to pray for you that your eyes would be opened. We are on this journey together. No one is better than another.
I’m the pastor – but that’s just my role here. Your role and your place in the church is of no less value. God loves us and values us all the same. But He’s gathered us up together to be a functioning, supportive, encouraging body. If you’re having trouble seeing, get someone to show you how.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about positioning ourselves for God to move through our lives with supernatural power… well, this is part of it. Let’s be positioned with eyes wide open!
I’m praying for the words of Jesus to come alive prophetically for us, when He said:
Matthew 13:16-17, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
This is our privilege to live in this season of history where we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us – so willing to direct our paths and open our eyes to see the world as God sees it. But I wonder how often we actually allow Him to lead us and speak to us and give us the wisdom for living?
As Jesus said, throughout history – particularly in the Old Testament, men and women would have loved and desired to see what we are capable of seeing. They had the Holy Spirit guiding them from time to time from without. But we have Him always leading us from within.
We think how wonderful it will be to meet up and speak to legends of the faith like Moses and David and Elisha. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they are thinking – I can’t wait to meet up with someone who was actually filled with the Holy Spirit! Imagine being able to see like they see!
We are born for such a time as this! This generation! This time in history! This season of life which is obviously leading up to the second coming of Jesus Christ. What a privilege that is! Why do we often forget who we are, what we have been given, and what we are capable of?
You are a born again, Spirit filled child of God. You are set apart to live for Christ. You are alive in the Spirit, you walk in the Spirit, you have a spiritual discernment that is supernatural… Walk in it!
Our first step in seeing things properly has to be, to put our eyes on Jesus Himself.
In Hebrews it talks about running the race of life that is set before us: (Hebrews 12:2) “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Obviously this looking unto Jesus is not the kind of looking that happens with our natural eyes… it’s not looking at Him. It’s looking unto Him. And that word “unto” means until… so it’s like we look unto Jesus until we really see Him and know Him for who He is.
It’s seeing Him by being with Him… seeing Him through the Word of God, seeing Him through prayer, seeing Him through the wonder of creation, seeing Him through the love and grace of others who know Him…
Some of you know that I love taking photographs. I’m just an amateur, but I live everything about it. Sometimes I’ll take photos of the tiniest parts of a plant or a flower. I took a close up photo of a hibiscus stamen one time, and when I got the photo printed, I could see these tiny silver sparkles around the very head of the stamen. I couldn’t see it with my natural eyes looking at the whole flower, but I could see it when I was able to get really really close through the eye of the lens. All it does is confirm to me again the wonder of this created world we live in, and knowing that the Creator Himself, Jesus, was the author of it all.
He wants us to lift our eyes above the obvious… particularly in a way where we see things as He sees them – whether it’s in relation to another person’s life, or whether it’s to reveal something about the supernatural world that we are part of.
There are at least three scriptures in the bible that encourage us to lift up our eyes…
Psalm 121:1-2, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
How often do we run around looking for help and for answers to our problems by exhausting every natural resource, every person, anything that we can lay our hands on to fix the issue… when what we should be doing before anything else is lifting our eyes to the Lord who made all of heaven and earth…?
When Jesus is talking to the disciples about what it’s going to be like before He returns, with signs in the sky, distress in the nations, the seas roaring and everything being shaken… He says: (Luke 21:27-28), “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
When things become darker and natural disasters increase and the world is shaken in the last days, where are we going to look? More than ever, we are going to have to set our eyes upon Jesus. He is the author of this world, and He will be the Finisher of it, as we know it, now as well.
And in relation to these days we are living in, where we are experiencing around the world and in our own country, many of the signs that the bible specifically speaks of, there’s another vital reason for us to lift our eyes.
John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
This is talking of course about the harvest of souls… the harvest of people’s lives for the kingdom of God… the harvest of those whose lives He is reaching out to and drawing to Himself…
If only we would lift up our eyes and see people, recognise people who are in that place of deep need… searching, in the valley of decision… themselves looking for truth and meaning in life. Lord, open our eyes to see them… open our eyes to see the field…
This leads me to a little quote a read during the week. It actually came to me through an couple who visited our church once, a number of years ago, as part of a holiday they were on from the UK. John and Maureen – not the John and Maureen sitting here today, but another couple by the same name… they only came once, and loved our church and I think would give anything to move over here. They’ll probably be listening to this message at some point, which they regularly do.
Anyway, John put up this quote from Mother Theresa during the week, and I think it fits perfectly with this point I’m making about looking with the eyes of the Spirit right where we live, to see the harvest that is right before us.
Mother Theresa would often receive letters from people wanting to come and join her and work with her in the slums of India. She received one of these letters from a woman who said she was willing to give up everything she had and move to Calcutta to serve the Lord amongst the poor.
This was Mother Theresa’s response:
“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely, right where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in homes and in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”
Maybe there are some of you here this morning, asking God, show me what I’m to do. Show me where I’m to serve. Reveal to me my path in this Christian walk of faith.
Others of you might be thinking, I could make a much bigger difference on the mission field in some remote, third world nation.
Well I believe He is responding to you by saying , open your eyes to the people around you. Open your eyes to the needs, the opportunities, the brokenness, the emptiness. Look into people’s eyes and see beyond the outer appearances.
Not just the outer appearances as in what they look like… but the outer appearances as in their jobs, their roles, their social standing, their environments.
Just because someone appears to be wealthy, with a good job, with lots of friends… doesn’t mean that they are fulfilled and at peace on the inside.
In fact we know – because once we were some of those people… and we know that regardless of what our material, social, family and career circumstances look like on the outside… without knowing Jesus and having peace with God, there’s always an emptiness and a void on the inside.
This is God’s great commission – to send us into the world to not only see others, but to cause others to see.
And yes, He may take you onto the mission field overseas. But you don’t have to wait for that! Your mission field starts the moment you walk out side the church doors.
2 Corinthians 4:6, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:18, “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
We need to be driven by eternity. Driven by the unseen realm, by faith.
I don’t like the word driven much. I don’t like to think of myself as a driven person.
But if am to be driven by something – let it be the salvation of souls. It’s the harvest that stands before you and I. It’s the sight of the field.
Acts 26:17-18, “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”
We could easily have that as our mission statement as a church. “To open others eyes!”
People don’t necessarily reject the gospel deliberately. Some might. But I think most people resist the gospel simply because they are blind. They can’t see. They’ve never had anyone take the time to help them open their eyes.
Well, Jesus is saying to us this morning – “…I now send you, to open their eyes…”
Let’s bring clarity of sight to our world. Let’s bring a culture of light into a world that is growing dark. Let’s lift up our eyes. Holy Spirit, help us to see. To look into others hearts. To know our own heart.
Help us to see through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name – Amen!