Open Your Eyes, That You May See

By Kevin Strickland

The ones described by the Lord as being told “depart from me, ye that practice lawlessness,” just didn’t know what for (Matthew 7:21-24).  They were so confused at what the Lord would say to them that they asked, “have we not prophesied in your name? and in thy name cast out many devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” (verse 22).  They had been apparently busy with doing many things they thought would please God, they thought they would get seen.  But they did not see what the Lord wanted, and were so told to depart.  Their inability to see was due to spiritual blindness.   Note the time when Balaam had been instructed not to go, but was protected by his donkey from not passing as the donkey saw the angel of God in the way, he had been spiritually blind (Numbers 22:21-31).  Likewise, when Saul saved the best of the cattle, and also, did not kill Agag as Samuel instructed of the Lord, this too was spiritual blindness (I Samuel 15:6-29).

Often, we too, can be like these that were spiritually blind, knowing the will of God, but not doing it with our eyes, or seeing clearly ( II Peter 1:9)  Peter offers a remedy for this to his readers in II Peter 1:5-8, when he begins in verse one, explaining to give “all diligence, add to your faith…”  Several things can help us to see more clearly so that we do not become blind, but we must be willing to have the faith that is required.  James describes very well in chapter 1:22-25 what happens when our faith doesn’t grow, and we don’t fully do what God has instructed in His word.  We must be a doer of the word, and not a hearer only.  For a hearer only is likened in verse 23 and 24 as one who  beholding his natural face in a glass: “for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”

God’s word doesn’t call men to perform great miracles as those who will be rejected by the Lord on the last day will find out.  The word of God is sure, as Balaam found out.  God’s word is not just nice to hear, but is important and the consequences are potentially destructive, as Saul found out.  The writer of the book of Psalms puts it very clear in 93:5  when he commits of God’s word that “Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.”  The Lord Jesus also prayed for this in John 17:7 when He asked the Father to sanctify His own by truth, “Your word is truth.”  Not one of them are useless nor to be overlooked.  Let’s have a heart to fully accept the total of God’s word (Psalm 119:160) and obey Him in everything He tells us.

The House Isn’t What It Used To Be

(by Rex Hadley/ Bill Hall)

Long ago, a man built a fine house that was talked about throughout the world.  Years later, men came to see and wanted to build that same house, but so much had been changed on it until the original structure wasn’t recognizable.  Men had put in bay windows, added fireplaces, built additions, and replaced the original furnishings with newer ones.  So much had been changed until men could no longer see how to build the original, beautiful design again.  After much discussion, one of them thought of how to re-build the fine house – by using the original blue-prints for the house.  Once they found and used them, they could build the house according to the original pattern.

The same is true when we look at so many churches in the world.  Much has been added and changed so that the Lord’s church can no longer be recognized.  The Lord built His church, and it is beautiful, and He is the head of it, which is His body (Matthew 16:18; Colossians 1:18).  It is His church (house) and no man has a right or the authority to change His pattern.  If we ourselves wish to build the Lord’s church we can go to the pattern that is laid out before us in His word.  It is no wonder today this has happened since we no longer respect the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16 & 17).  If we are all one body, we need to be certain we are the body of Christ as he intended (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).  We must know for certain what we do is by the authority of Christ.  Jesus said “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:19).  Once we leave God’s word, we have left God (2 John 9).  Since this is so, let’s make sure we are sticking to His pattern.

We invite you to study the pattern form His word with us!

Having His Hand on the Plow

If we believe like the world that the history of Sodom and Gomorrah was more a fairy tale than a true event, then we probably won’t gain much from Lot’s wife when we see that she turned into a pillar of salt. But to those who believe unto the saving of the soul, we believe that Lot’s wife was cursed into a pillar of salt when she looked back, while clearly violating God’s instruction. When she disobeyed, she received the penalty for the error of her way. Many might think however that this was too cruel for just one look back. However, we might see some encouragement in the silence of the response that Lot did not give. Lot obeyed the voice of the Lord, and was able to lead only his daughters away to safety from the destruction of the Lord (Genesis 19:23-26).
Many would see the encouragement from this as being to simply trust in the Lord, and do not turn from the right hand nor the left, nor turn back. They would be correct. Luke 9:62 is arranged in this same way, to instruct that those who are worthy to enter the kingdom of God must not look back to the old life they are leaving or have left behind. However, I believe there is also more strength we can receive in the message we read of Lot’s wife. There may be some of the faithful reading who have had to suffer loss of a faithful family member to sudden, physical death. There may be a reader who has had to withdraw from an unfaithful family member who chose to look back into the world. There may even be one reader struggling themselves with looking back and becoming again entangled with the affairs of this world. And even if there are some who aren’t near the struggle to turn back, please heed the encouragement that we find in God’s word – our God wants the faithful to obey Him.
Again, what was Lot’s response to the passing of his wife? Nothing that we can read as recorded. He simply obeyed; otherwise we know that God would have faithfully answered his turning back just as He did the wife. But there was no answer from Lot. If any of us lovingly care for those in our lives, there will be grief and heartache at any loss of life, but our look must be on that of heaven, and of the Lord, and his example. There are far too many evidences in the scriptures that tell us when facing such difficulty, that we must gather our strength from God and trust in Him.
Other examples speak out to us from God’s word in this way, encouraging us to rely on God. The scriptures point out that Abraham did not speak or leave God when he was instructed to sacrifice his only son; there was no voice against the commandment of the Lord, but the desire to simply obey. When Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire from God when their sacrifices were offered with strange fire, Aaron was instructed that God must be regarded as holy, and Aaron held his peace (Leviticus 10:3). We see Job’s wife say “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). But Job’s response was to remember that while we can accept good from the Lord, we must also learn to accept adversity when the trials come as well (Job 2:10). We see the Lord had his brothers believing not in Him, but telling Him to present himself to the world if He was something (John 7:5). Paul was at a near lonely state, admittedly so, when he told Timothy that Demas had left him, and also Crescens and Titus in the second letter (II Timothy 4:10). But Paul was still seeking to continue to do the work and use Mark (II Timothy 4:11).
Life is chock full of disappointments in loss of brethren, friends, and family. This loss may come in death, leaving the Lord, or other terrible ways. However, the focus for the faithful is to continue to do the will of God, despite the physical loss. This is not an easy encouragement to give nor accept. When the Lord hits on this thought, He makes it plain: “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14-26-33). There is no guarantee given by God that those closest to us are going to remain ever present with us. Our only guarantee is that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). And with God with us through it all makes any loss in this life a smaller thing.